Market Access Strategy & Pricing

‘Market Access’ means different things to different people. We have provided our interpretation, followed by some examples from the literature.

The Business Definition

Openness of a country’s markets to foreign goods and services. Market access reflects the government’s economic policies regarding import substitution and free competition.

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The Pharmaceutical Definition

Market Access considers the implications your product may have on the wider healthcare market, while understanding the impact the changing healthcare market will have on your product, preparing a positive healthcare environment which supports uptake of your product and finally, communicating the ‘value’ of your product to the range of customers who influence uptake.

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MAP Market Access Definition

Market Access is a label for the main activities required for a doctor to gain reimbursement for and prescribe the right medicine to the right patient at the right time.

Market Access for medicines is often described as confusing and full of risk for the innovative company that is trying to bring a new product to patients. However, this is probably more perception than reality. Once you understand the options and the processes, it is fairly straightforward to navigate and achieve market access.

Market Access may cross over several other long established areas of biotech and pharmaceutical company functions, which makes a tailored approach necessary. Most importantly, it requires simple descriptions of the problem and solutions.

Strategically, market access is about packaging data in the right way, for the right customer at the right time. In a changing NHS, aligning your product with a moving target is challenging and only by understanding the needs of all stakeholders involved in the adoption, positioning and funding of your product will you be able to develop messages that improve its chances of success.

Differences Across the EU

Medicine prices and reimbursement conditions differ across the EU due to factors which are often beyond the control of companies, such as:

  • Price setting by authorities – this is a national, not an EU competence. It concerns national health and pharma policies and priorities, wholesale/pharmacy margins, VAT rates, pack sizes and distribution channels, and exchange rate fluctuations
  • Member States compare and sometimes reference their prices to those set in other countries. Such comparisons must be performed with great caution to avoid unanticipated impact
  • International reference pricing (IRP) – choice of country basket should take differences between Member States into account:
    • Purchasing power, GDP per capita; Germany recently decided to include the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Greece in the country basket…The German price is again referenced by 23 other countries*

      *Source: MAP IRP matrix

The table below provides some insights into market access conditions in Europe, and particularly the different approaches that countries take, when appraising price and reimbursement conditions.

Comparison of Price Changes, Contracting Arrangements and HTA Requirements in Europe