Traditionally, the pharmaceutical industry has always been dependent upon the ‘push’ strategy for successful market access for products. The drug approval process, involving submission of data on efficacy, safety, and tolerability to the regulatory agencies, used to be simple; which ended with the drug being marketed to the targeted physicians and dispensed by pharmacies post approval. Thus, this whole process involved a limited set of stakeholders, viz. physicians, regulatory agencies, and pharmacies. Conversely, over the years, the market access landscape has evolved primarily due to two factors: (1)

  1. Rising healthcare costs owing to an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, growing geriatric population, and higher prices of new therapies
  2. Competitive pricing and reimbursement environment

This has further led to the emergence of a new and diverse set of stakeholders over the years, i.e. the ‘Payer’(s), increasing the complexity of drug access to the market in general, and to patients in particular. Payer exercises the greatest degree of control over pricing and reimbursement for any new drug, and will continue to dominate the market access scenario to ensure successful market access. (2,3)

Pharmaceutical advancements are increasingly conflicting as countries attempt to accommodate healthcare costs via different tools. New criteria for recognizing unique drugs and differences among those within the same therapeutic area or concerning the same molecule are being introduced, even though ‘price’ remains the main driver. (4) There is a surge of criticism towards the increasing prices of drugs that adds growing pressure on pharma companies and manufactures to limit future price increases, and eventually on payers to be more cost-effective in their approach to setting budgets and managing costs. (5) Global pharma operations need to keep up with the pace of these changes to approach pharma tendering as a strategy that spans pricing and commercialization.

In order to document the effect of a new therapy in the real world, pharma companies are trying to justify prices by tapping payer’s data. Payers encourage pharma to collect post-launch evidence of product performance in the real world, thus turning it in pharma’s favor. This can help verify a price agreement or even clarify uncertainties about the clinical and/or safety outcomes outlined at registration. (6)

The successful market access will involve collaborative team work between sales and marketing departments. The strategy itself should be well equipped to respond to market evolution and also, to accommodate all known interactions. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. The challenges in the market will constantly vary as per the product, therapy area and the setting in which the treatment will be used.i,vi

Payers are increasingly focusing on “real-world” outcomes to form their decisions, encouraging new policies to be formed, in order to assimilate evidence from different sources. These policies prioritize the evidence that goes beyond information collected during clinical development in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), required by regulatory authorities for marketing approval. ‘Administrative data’- that normally use retrospective or real-time patient data – are an example of the real world data sources, as they are collected primarily for reimbursement, but contain some clinical diagnosis and procedure use with detailed information on charges. Retrospective analyses (longitudinal and cross-sectional) of clinical and economic outcomes at patient, group, or population levels can be performed with the help of claims databases. Such analyses can be performed in short time and at low costs. (7)

In conclusion, payer data from real-world such as claims data can most certainly impact the sound coverage, payment, and reimbursement decisions. It is critical that payers recognize – a) the benefits, limitations, and methodological challenges in using these data, and b) the need to carefully consider the costs and benefits of different forms of data collection in different situations.

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  1. Kumar A, et al. Pharmaceutical market access in emerging markets: concepts, components, and future. Journal of Market Access & Health Policy 2014; 2:10.3402/jmahp.v2.25302.
  2. McClearn C, et al. Big pharma’s market access mission. Deloitte University Press; 2013.
  3. Arx RV, et al. Leveraging success factors for market access in the life sciences industry. Capgemini Consulting and Cegedim dendrite; 2009.
  4. Skinner JS. The costly paradox of healthcare technology. September, 2013. 
  5. Pharmaceutical pricing and market access 2017.
  6. Wechsier J. Measuring the value of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical Executive 2017; 37(5).
  7. Garrison LP Jr. Using real-world data for coverage and payment decisions: The ISPOR Real-World Data Task Force Report. Value Health 2007; 10(5):326-225.

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