The Key to (Emerging) Market Access

Market access has become a focus for nearly every multinational pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics company. In recent years, some have even created a functional executive to drive market access initiatives both internally and externally. While the growing importance of market access is widely recognized, there is no consensus on a specific definition, the best approach to it, or who should lead the effort.

The simplest definition goes something like this: getting the right treatment to the right patient at the right time, including, of course, timely reimbursement at margin-producing levels. However, in emerging markets—where multinational healthcare firms are increasingly turning for growth—this description fails to capture the complexity involved in achieving this goal. With (emerging) market access, executives need to think more broadly, more creatively, and with more geographic focus. Here are a few examples of categories in which emerging markets require a different approach:

  • Regulatory frameworks and policymakers: Institutions in emerging markets tend to shift more rapidly, and personalities and politics hold more sway, requiring a nimbler government affairs approach.
  • Sales/channel approaches: In emerging markets, choosing the right distributor–one who knows how to position the value of a therapy to the right actors, and incorporate valued-added services—can mean the difference between market access and market failure.
  • Patient preferences: The ability to leverage data about how patients use a therapy or device, and how that therapy or device (or associated services) contributes to broader population health, can be vital in achieving government approval in a strained resource environment
  • Manufacturing and supply chain: In emerging markets, where a company manufactures and sources its products can be an underappreciated consideration in gaining market access when governments are concerned about employment, foreign currency reserves, and their approval ratings.

FSG has found that the key to gaining market access amid these complexities is to align internal decision-making across company functions such as R&D, manufacturing, and marketing with the macro factors (demographics and macroeconomic/political stability) and industry actors (payers, providers, and patients) that are unique to each market.

A successful market access strategy should be:

  • Localized – tailored to a specific country, and, where warranted, to a specific subnational jurisdiction
  • Multidisciplinary – blending expertise about R&D, health technology assessments (HTAs), value-based care, political analysis, sales and channel management, and payer/provider/patient insights, among other areas, pulling together functions from R&D to government affairs to coordinate approaches
  • Proactive – anticipating and addressing a wide array of external developments, and influence a local healthcare ecosystem toward desired policy approaches
  • Integrated – incorporated into broader company growth strategy and decision-making on ‘where to play’

As local competition grows fiercer, budget pressures increase, and rising middle classes demand more and better access to healthcare, market access challenges in emerging markets will become even more formidable. Multinational healthcare firms will have to become even more localized and will have to harness and coordinate expertise from across the firm at unprecedented levels.

Click here to learn more about FSG’s healthcare solutions. You can also download our latest whitepaper, (Emerging) Market Access: A Multidisciplinary Approach, to learn how to build a market access strategy for your business.


For more information about FSG’s enhanced healthcare solutions, clients can contact their client relationship director.

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