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What is Market Access?

What is Market Access?

That’s a good question and it took me a while to get my head round it too! Put simply, it’s the complex and protracted process that pharma and biotech companies have to go through in order to ensure that their medicines are made available in as many countries as possible and most importantly that these medicines are reimbursed and made available to patients who need them. You’ll also hear phrases such as ‘Pricing and Reimbursement’ (P&R), ‘Health Economics and Outcomes Research’ (HEOR) and ‘Payer (or Payor) Research’ and ‘Cost Effectiveness’. Market Access to my mind is a broad term encompassing all these things.

Market Access has become increasingly important over the last 5 to 10 years because there are more and more hi-tech expensive drugs coming to market and at the same time there is enormous pressure on governments and/or healthcare systems to cut the costs of their drugs bills. A good example is the UK market where  the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) plays such a pivotal role in deciding whether or not new treatments are cost effective.

In order to have their products reimbursed by the NHS at the best price possible, pharma and biotech companies now have to work very hard, gathering lots of data around the health economic impact and cost effectiveness of their products and they need to present these reams of data to NICE in as convincing a form as possible. In order to help them do this they will commission a specialist Market Access Consultancy to walk them through the process and to achieve the best results possible.


A Career within Market Access.
Entry level will most often be with one of the specialist market access consultancies as a research or business analyst, moving up to senior analyst and then onto consultant level. In the more junior roles your time will be split between the following – about a third of your time arranging interviews with key opinion leaders (KOLs) Payers (the guys that hold the purse strings and ultimately decide whether or not to reimburse products and at what level), almost half of your time will be spent ondesk research, conducting interviews, helping with analysis and developing presentations. The rest of your time will be spent on client liaison and project management.

As you climb the ladder you become less involved in the nitty gritty day to day aspects of managing the projects and more involved in client liaison, business development, proposal writing, pitching for new business and advising on market access strategy. Client side or industry roles do also exist within market access but tend to be reserved for people with a good  number of years experience under their belt, most likely gained on the agency side.

As well as the project managers there are also opportunities for writers who would be responsible for developing value dossiers and compiling other forms of report and documentation which essentially will be used to support submissions to bodies like NICE. For this you would need a strong science based degree, preferably a PhD and you’ll be able to provide evidence of strong writing skills ideally with some previous experience either within market access or perhaps from within the medical communications sector.

Like all sectors within pharma, market access can offer a lucrative career with companies paying good basic salaries and offering attractive benefits packages with genuine opportunities to learn and climb the career ladder. The work is fast paced and at times demanding but can be highly rewarding. Our clients within market access look for people with a strong academic background who have a passion for working in this sector. Good communicators, strong project managers and people who can work effectively under pressure, juggling several projects at any one time and working with pace and urgency.


Typical roles within Market Access
Research / Business Analyst
Senior Analyst


To see all our current vacancies within Market Access and HEOR click here

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