Pharma really has to start to engage beyond traditional organisations; some companies are ahead of the curve on this but if those who are behind the curve don’t catch up, they will be left behind.
Market access does not begin and end within the NHS and private healthcare providers; the principle of market access is to take a broader, more lateral perspective.
Following the process from sales to market access, the focus changes as companies seek to engage with key stakeholders moving further and further up the decision-making process. From working with doctors, healthcare professionals and business unit managers, the focus expands to include NHS Commissioners, Health and Wellbeing Boards, and Social Care Commissioners – to name a few.
Why look further afield?
With Brexit looming, the associated uncertainties for the UK economy, and the call for change that the Brexit vote demonstrated, the Government has been working on post-Brexit policy and producing key documents, specifically The Industrial Strategy and the Life Sciences Sector Deal.
The Green Paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, identified 10 pillars, including:
• The first: Investing in science, research and innovation – we must become a more innovative economy and do more to commercialise our world leading science base to drive growth across the UK
• Supporting businesses to start and grow
• Improving procurement
• Cultivating world-leading sectors
• Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.
All the pillars show the potential for a positive impact on accessing markets for new products and services, and growing life sciences businesses.
The White Paper went further: identifying the importance of life sciences to the UK, not just economically, but in the opportunities it offers for employment, equality, life expectancy and quality of life, naming multiple pharmaceutical companies within the document as key drivers for UK growth. The Government saw this sector as so important that the first Sector Deal was for Life Sciences.
“So what?” you might ask; why does this change anything for pharmaceutical market access? Industrial Strategy documents also highlighted other potential collaborations and interfaces where company growth can be improved.
Access through universities
We have world-leading universities in the UK, that have excellent resources for R&D and a history of great innovative ideas. However, we are not capitalising on this resource to its full potential, restricting the flow of innovations coming to market.
Businesses are not regularly and systematically engaged to partner with universities, sharing knowledge and networks in a way which would build revenue growth for both sides.
Universities are evaluated on their impact – with a strong focus on regional economies and populations. For example, the recent funding call ‘UK Research and Innovation strength in places fund’ – took a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant regional economic growth and offering up to £50 million per application.
Universities want to talk to companies local to them, especially life sciences – but may be struggling to find out how. Now is the time to reach out to their business engagement and technology transfer teams. They can provide access to networks of clinicians and academics often inaccessible to general company representation.
Academic Health Science Networks, Local Enterprise Partnerships (responsible for writing and delivering Regional Industrial Strategies), and the Department for International Trade all see pharmaceutical companies as key to meeting their targets and objectives.
They each have a remit of expanding access to markets for innovation and building internal and external investment, and so are being paid to help UK-based businesses grow.