Market access in the pharma industry: do’s and don’ts


Market access is one of the biggest challenges that face the pharmaceutical industry. In order to get pharmaceutical products to market successfully, they must overcome numerous market barriers. In addition to obtaining market authorizations, they must meet growing environmental, health, and safety regulations. Furthermore, the value of the drug needs to be effectively communicated in order to influence payer perceptions. Research-based market access strategies are key to achieving this objective.

What is the best direction for accessing the market?  

The pharma industry, at its core, is about caring for people and improving lives. The definition of market access in the pharmaceutical industry is all about ensuring:

  • The patients can access drugs quickly and continuously
  • Drugs available in the market are effective in treating the diseases
  • Drugs are marketed at a reasonable price 

The pharmaceutical industry seems to have a bright future as healthcare has become a priority for governments in several countries. A recent trend is for payers to demand insights into the cost-effectiveness of new drugs compared to alternative drugs and generics because healthcare costs are rising.

Pharmaceutical companies are, therefore, under pressure to revamp their drug development and marketing strategies. To address the market access issues during the early stages of drug development, pharmaceutical companies must leverage pharmaceutical market access strategies.

Building suitable market strategies 

The potential for progression within the pharmaceutical market is vast, and the market is witnessing a gradual move from scientific to commercial approaches. Changing the overall layout and current patterns in the pharma industry’s sales and marketing tactics is necessary. The drug industry is transforming as pharma marketing gets more dynamic and incremental. 

In response to changing demands, a number of companies and entities are producing attractive labels and modifying the dosing information. You must decide the appropriate practices for the growth and development of the entire industry to implement effective promotional strategies.

With that goal in mind, we’d suggest merging strong business acumen with a well-defined access strategy to attain the heights of the market. To gain access to this market, it is important to consider the following dos and don’ts:


  • Define the objectives of the organization or brand – 

The very first step is to formulate the objectives for the organization or brand and its overarching commercial goals for greater success in the pharmaceutical market. This initial step is important because it helps to shape the future course of action to be taken when approaching a market and limiting the risk of possible launch failures. 

Formulating the objectives takes a lot of work and research to look closely at parameters like time to access, market share, volume, discounts and rebates, cost of patient affordability programs, fulfillment solutions, and required commercial capabilities. 

Designing a perfect marketing campaign is equally important, given the changing behavior patterns of customers and industry demands. One customer doesn’t need to be fascinated by something that appeals to another. For targeted audiences to achieve the desired results, you must include personalized market data in your strategic model.

  • Understand the industry & category landscape: 

A company’s long-term success depends on its efficient and robust business strategies. It is no different in the pharmaceutical industry. Global reach makes it all the more important to have a solid grasp of business strategies and operations. A company seeking to surpass existing benchmarks and conquer the pharmaceutical market must understand how those markets work. An excellent place to begin is by understanding regulated and emerging markets. 

It also means assessing several other factors that affect the industry at large. Such factors include the entire patient population, disease prevalence rates, and the unmet needs of that population. To address those needs, the brand would also need to focus on the patient journey and the access they have to common drugs.  

Finally, given the current and future ecosystem dynamics, they need to assess how all these factors play out and know what each priority access stakeholders prioritize, like health plans, integrated delivery systems, and value assessment bodies. 

Related reading: Market landscape analysis of migraine, pain, and Parkinson’s disease

  • Select the best where & how to play strategies 

Once all of these inputs have been collected and evaluated, pharmaceutical players will have a more detailed understanding of the industry they wish to access. Only then can they begin to map out what route would be best for them and how to start planning, considering all the capabilities they have.

That data should be framed carefully and must match, or at least be, a response to the ongoing events inside the market: treatment context, priority stakeholders, stakeholders’ decision-making process, the most viable access options, and the trade-offs that come with them. The goal here is not to expand aimlessly but to continue to provide efficient healthcare that opens up medication access to patients in hard-to-reach regions while keeping core values in mind.


  • Not having or setting clear market access objectives:

As private and government payers worldwide grow more powerful, obtaining market access promptly at an appropriate price has become critical to company success. In the past, market access was usually assured if a pharmaceutical product was safe and worked. No longer.

Market access today is far more challenging due to a confluence of factors: the need to contain rising costs, the proliferation of competing drugs in the same therapeutic areas, and reliance on evidence-based medicine (EBM) and health technology assessment (HTA) to drive payer decisions. 

In addition, the growth of the generics segment and the advent of biosimilar drugs have given payers additional choices when deciding what products they will cover. Attempting to tackle all areas at once might not work. Determining some attainable goals is advised when attempting to access a market.

  • Avoiding industry or market research before accessing the market

As a result of the pandemic, new complications and challenges arose. According to McKinsey, drug launches were very straightforward before the pandemic. In spite of this, 40% of world drug launches between 2009 and 2017 failed to meet two-year sales forecasts. Players could run into barriers sooner than expected without the right amount of preparation and research beforehand.

As the competition intensifies, pricing pressure grows, access challenges increase, and expectations rise, a successful launch must overcome a number of barriers. We can determine the ins and outs of an already risky launch environment through thorough market analysis. 

  • Believing that the criterion for approval is the same for all the players in the market

In the cooperative venture that produces and develops drugs, laws have been enacted that regulate drug marketing and development; regulatory agencies have been established to oversee drug development and use; drug evaluation boards, information centers, and quality control laboratories have been established. Certain pharmaceutical activities are exempt or omitted from regulation in some countries

An important part of your market access strategy is knowing what sells well and what doesn’t. The sale of herbal or homeopathic products is not regulated in some countries but not in others. In other countries, drug importation regulations may be less stringent. Drug-related catastrophes that force governments to strengthen or toughen regulations prompt public demand for more restrictive legislation.

It has been common for governments to streamline drug laws and regulations in response to these concerns. Some types of drugs are given expedited approval, such as cancer drugs and AIDS drugs. Other times, the public has perceived regulatory authorities to be too cautious or restrictive in approving drugs for sale. It’s essential to consider how this regulation flux can impact market access and your strategies to improve it as long as this flux remains.

  • Assuming all payers in the market will have the same drivers

Market access strategy has seen many notable advances in the past three to five years, including segmenting markets and payers, addressing payer needs in new ways, and developing innovative go-to-market models at the local level that combine sales and public relations with market access. The industry has established processes and approaches to ensure market access input into R&D and business development efforts, as well as investing in data and analytics for better defining product value to payers.

  • Ignoring the trade-offs

Pharma companies are primarily concerned with a drug’s efficacy when designing clinical trials, so the simulation and modeling technologies used for those designs are also geared toward that objective. However, to determine a compound’s clinical utility and economic worth, it is important to consider a number of aspects beyond efficacy, including the target population, the formulation of the product, and patient compliance. Drug developers must consider these dimensions earlier in the development process to increase market share and patient value.

As an example, clinical utility indexes (CUIs) are metrics that measure both benefit and risk and capture expert opinion on the therapeutic implications of various product characteristics. Furthermore, it promotes communication between the commercial side and the development side. Making decisions based on transparent trade-offs to decision-makers aids in quantifying factors such as a product’s effectiveness, safety, cost, and quality of life contribution.

Are you ready to dive a little deeper? To succeed in a highly competitive market, pharmaceutical marketing requires the inception of evidence-based marketing, publication, pricing, and contracting strategies. Learn more about the market opportunities most suitable for you with Netscribes and contact us today.

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