Why the pharmaceutical sector must embrace market access performance tracking

Global market access tracking is key to keeping up with myriad product launches, leading to cost savings and better patient outcomes
Roberto Sorin Rs0 H Pybyk Unsplash

According to the University of Texas, “delays in drug approvals cost their creators an average USD$1 million a day”. How, therefore, do global pharmaceutical companies ensure timely and effective access in every territory they operate in. In a highly challenging product launch environment, it is a problem that pharmaceutical companies must tackle.

“The answer,” says Ahmed Edathodu, founding director of Access Infinity, which delivers market access solutions to major pharmaceutical companies, “lies in market access performance”. 

But what is market access performance? Edathodu, who worked at Janssen Pharmaceuticals before co-founding Access Infinity nine years ago, says, “Put simply, market access performance is the ability to measure key performance indicators against pricing and reimbursement objectives in each country in which a new drug or indication is being launched.”

Perhaps surprisingly, a recent study by Access Infinity found that 90% of pharmaceutical companies it interviewed only “partially” measure market access performance at launch.

Why performance tracking is critical

Access Infinity’s research also revealed that market access teams put their findings into documents to support market access but then don’t properly monitor their outcomes, success and performance.

However, in doing so, it discovered that these teams were missing out on cutting-edge vision and insight that can only be revealed through comprehensive performance tracking. 

“If you don’t track performance, you don’t know what is going on in your business,” says Edathodu. “Nor do you know what ‘good’ actually looks like. In a nutshell, that means that you have no way of accurately measuring whether or not you are making improvements or quantifying the impact of your efforts.”

In this respect, the market access performance solution that Access Infinity provides its clients is a fundamental game changer, because, says Edathodu, “it helps provide critical insights as they look to monitor and understand whether they are achieving the best possible price, the broadest possible access, in the shortest possible time in each market that they operate”.

Since its inception, Access Infinity has been helping leading multinational pharmaceutical companies – including GSK, AstraZeneca and Pfizer – to develop and implement effective market access and pricing strategies – something that no one else is doing at the time of writing.

“Our edge – our point of difference,” says Edathodu, “is that we have been on an extensive journey of continuous improvement. During that time, we have conducted thousands of interviews with end-users – both global and country – and that unique insight has enabled us to continually work on improving the product design so that it can be used in the most efficient, effective and powerful way by our users.”

Ensuring that the latter happens is largely down to Thomas Gilboy, who has overall responsibility for Access Infinity’s market access digital tools.

Gilboy, who has over a decade’s experience in market access , agrees with Edathodu that gleaning real-world insight from the world’s leading pharma companies is why Access Infinity is admired and trusted the world over by the industry’s most significant players.

Access Infinity customers don’t need to trawl multiple systems to gather and consolidate data

Thomas Gilboy

Gilboy explains, “Before we could really develop our industry-leading products, we needed to understand the pain-points that pharma product launch teams were regularly experiencing. We quickly realised that their greatest challenge was not having easy access to up-to-date information. Often the information had to be pulled from a variety of different siloed sources, such as email trails, Microsoft Teams messages, Excel spreadsheets and document management systems, such as SharePoint. This, we realised, was a huge drain on resources and in some cases was a contributing factor to global underperformance.”

The solution was to develop a suite of digital tools, which were visually appealing and easy-to-use. To fulfil this challenging brief, Gilboy and his team continue to work with leading user-interface designers to create three solutions: NURO, Access Hub and Evidence Library.

NURO is a business intelligence platform that joins the dots across extensive datasets. Access Hub enables clients to track KPIs and new product launches, while streamlining communications with country teams. Evidence Hub uses state-of-the-art AI so clients never miss an update or an important publication release. 

But how do these pioneering products add value? Gilboy explains, “Most importantly, clients who have access to these three tools benefit in a number of ways. Firstly, what is unique about our product, is that we give clients access to their competitor’s data, and, also, industry data. This provides our clients with a benchmark, which enables them to understand whether they are under-performing, or indeed, over-performing.”

Gilboy adds that Access Infinity’s customers “don’t need to trawl multiple systems to gather and consolidate data”. 

He explains, “Our technology, which uses AI-trained bots to scrape key resources, is a one-stop-shop, which performs this onerous task for them. So, for example, they don’t need to spend precious time verifying whether or not their drug has gained approval in a particular country. As soon as it happens, we notify them via Access Hub.”

Process automation saves time

Secondly, Gilboy and his colleagues sought to ease the burden of admin placed on the shoulders of product launch teams.

“Extensive product launch experience, coupled with our market research interviews,  revealed that product launch teams were spending a vast amount of time navigating complex communication chains, which meant a lot of manual data input. We automated the process. So whenever a milestone is reached, our tools send a reminder to the right person at the right time.”

This, says Gilboy, “streamlines the entire process and cuts out any duplication or error”, as whenever a team member actions a reminder, the system, which everyone has access to, “is  automatically updated”. 

But, perhaps the greatest benefit is that the platforms provide Access Infinity’s clients with the enhanced visibility to be more agile and lithe in their decision making. 

He adds, “The rich data we provide gives them a much more accurate picture of the launch. It allows global users that are in charge of the overall launch strategy to receive near real-time progress updates, which enables them to quickly change course or tactics should they need to.”

And, if proof was needed that Access Infinity’s market access performance tools are adding real value, Katie Gardner, Astellas’s global market access director comments: “…It has helped us to make things more visual and user-friendly, drawing in everybody to share knowledge across the organisation, not just globally, but on a country level.”

It is a view shared by Martin Rost, vice president of global Market Access at Pfizer: “Tracking market access performance has given us actionable information to adjust plans, strategies or activities. There are so many variables to track at different stages of the product lifecycle, and this helps us make faster decisions, not only at a global, but at a country level.”

While market access performance data is positively changing the way product launch teams work, Edathodu says that “ultimately the chief beneficiaries of this technology are patients, who will receive faster access to lifesaving healthcare”. 

In an era where global healthcare systems are stretched and under huge pressure, holistically, that is perhaps the most transformative aspect of the technology.