Back to Insights

Maximize your brand’s market access when these 5 disruptive events happen

As a marketer, you probably have a love-hate relationship with market access. Even if the brand you’re associated with has a favorable position today, something can happen — strategic or unplanned — to change things for the future — for better or worse.

Within this ever-evolving market access environment, brands need to be sure their marketing strategies include a plan and the capability to respond to such changes.

The overarching reason to have a market access strategy and plan: speed to providing value in a highly competitive space. Companies often pay a significant portion of profit in rebates to get their brands in Tier 1 or 2. If they don’t maximize pull through with speed to market, they risk coming up short of reaching market share goals, showing ROI and staying on top. This puts a significant burden on sales reps and marketers to pull through their products.

When you’re prepared to handle a market change, you can maximize your brand’s speed to market, making you the first to talk to HCPs about a change and empowering you to influence which marketing levers to pull when windows of opportunity open.

These strategies are just as important during wins as they are during losses. In both cases, you’re better able to manage short- and long-term disruptions. For example, if your product is suddenly in a stronger position because of a major insurer’s formulary change, you’ll want to get that message to HCPs who have patients with that insurer. Even if you lose ground in such a change, you’ll want to quickly assess how that impacts each HCP so you can refocus market access messaging where prescribing can be optimized.

Are you able to pivot your market access marketing strategy with speed when a market access event threatens to hijack it? If you’re not sure, then keep reading because we’ve compiled proven ways to handle five common scenarios that can affect pull-through success.

Unpacking the 5 common market access disrupters

Most pharma marketing leaders have the experience to manage unexpected circumstances or market disruptions that demand a change of course. However, many do not have the right tools when it comes to market access changes. The following are 5 common scenarios that can impact your market access marketing, along with ways you can prepare.

1. Your brand’s formulary position changes

The Scenario: Market access contracts are negotiated and struck every day — deals that drive drug availability and pricing for more than 266 million Americans on therapy. For manufacturers and marketers, a change in formulary position is the most common market access shakeup.

Risks and Rewards: A payer formulary change can impact your market share potential practically overnight. If you aren’t ready to handle an upgrade or downgrade of your brand or a competing one, you can lose valuable momentum.

Communicating changes to HCPs as quickly as possible is essential. In a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, one in four people taking prescription drugs reported difficulty affording their medication. That experience is the patient friction you want to help HCPs prevent. When an HCP is unaware that a brand has been downgraded, they may continue to prescribe it. And often it is a frustrated patient who delivers the unwelcome news to the HCP that the product is no longer covered or has become too expensive. An experience that is often easily overgeneralized by HCPs can reduce the perception of access for your brand.

When a brand experiences a positive change in formulary status, but an HCP doesn’t know about it, they will continue to not prescribe it to their patients. If it’s your brand getting upgraded, you risk not fulfilling the product’s potential to gain market share. Beyond lost revenue, you miss opportunities to contribute to supporting the HCP-patient relationship by offering a more accessible product.

When you’re able to communicate a formulary position change along with the access impact for your brand to an individual HCP almost immediately, you can better control the message around brand cost and coverage and optimize speed to market — avoiding the lag time of traditional formulary vendors. If your brand’s formulary position improves, you’re poised to capitalize on the change, encourage higher rates of pull through and be a valuable partner to HCPs who want their patients to encounter as little friction as possible.

How to Prepare: You can avoid many of these risks. Begin now by working from the most relevant, personalized data available delivered through an automated platform and channels optimized to reach your HCPs. Having the right AI-driven messaging tools in place today means activation is automatic when a formulary change happens — no scrambling for solutions, waiting on formulary vendor updates or rushing collateral through approvals. If the news is good, you’ll be poised to amplify that message. If the news isn’t in your favor, you can better manage the message. Either way, you need to be able to respond quickly.

2. HCPs’ expectations and attitudes around personal engagement shift

The Scenario: HCPs today have more administrative work than ever before. More stringent considerations around unnecessarily exposing their patients to outside visitors complicate matters further. HCPs want to focus on patient care and, as a result, may be less tolerant of time-consuming pharma rep visits.

Non-Personal Promotion (NPP) is not new, but it continues to become more valuable to HCPs. A comparison of trends between 2015 and 2018 shows that HCPs’ preference for digital channels has steadily increased — and this applies to market access as well.

Risks and Rewards: If you haven’t fully adopted NPP and omnichannel marketing tactics to deliver personalized market access messaging, you risk leaving your brand out of the conversation when an HCP is considering drug therapy choices. Sales reps can’t be available to HCPs 24/7. But digital channels can promote your brand day or night, in the office or out of the office.

When you’re prepared to engage HCPs through NPP, you can meet them where and when they are researching treatment options for patients and making prescription decisions. You are contributing to the collaborative ecosystem among HCPs and their patients in a valuable way.

How to Prepare: Meet HCPs where they are, delivering the timeliest, most personalized market access information available across a variety of channels. An omnichannel approach to message delivery should not be reserved for only your clinical information. If you’re not exploring web, email, social, tele and print channels for your market access messaging, you will soon be left behind.

More advanced companies are integrating market access into clinical HCP journeys through DXPs (digital experience platforms), and there are market access platforms making that integration seamless through configurable APIs. Continue to innovate your tactics as NPP technologies become more targeted and relevant to HCPs and select a market access partner who is equally invested in the technologies and integration expertise to support your innovation.

3. New competition will challenge your market share

The Scenario: With 7,000 medicines in development around the world, your next competitor is likely waiting in the wings. When a product within your drug class comes on the market or becomes more competitive, be ready.

Risks and Rewards: No matter where a product appears on a payer formulary, when an HCP is weighing options, it is their perception of market access that matters. If they believe that patients overall will have a tougher time accessing your product compared to the new competition, they won’t prescribe yours. And the volume of new entrants makes understanding the market access landscape exponentially more difficult for an individual HCP.

But when your sales reps and their market access messaging provide straightforward answers specific to each HCP about your market access position compared to other brands, they can help HCPs be confident they are making the best brand choices for their patients.

There is a good chance that if new competition causes a slip in your own formulary position or confusion in the market, the impact could be perceived as being worse than it is. For example, although the competitor may have a recent win with one big insurer, most of the HCP’s actual patients likely have other insurers where your drug is still a better choice.

How to Prepare: Be consultative; help HCPs understand the nuances of unique products’ formulary positions, offering details on costs, coverage and prior authorization requirements specific to their individual patient population. Establish your sales team and your collective digital presence as the market access experts in your therapeutic area. Provide market access messages that drill down to the individual HCP’s practice and patients before a new competitor steals their attention — and worse yet, their perceptions of access in your market.

4. You’re launching a new product

The Scenario: Market access is just one consideration of a successful drug launch, but it’s critical. In fact, limited market access is one of the top three reasons a drug launch misses its market expectations.

When you’re managing a new brand’s market access marketing — with an increasingly constrained budget — you want to make sure the HCPs you’re targeting have meaningful reasons to prescribe it. In other words, their patients need your drug therapy and can easily access and pay for it. Market access can no longer be an afterthought when launching a new brand. And in some geographies, market access is the gatekeeper to even getting an opportunity for a clinical conversation with HCPs.

Risks and Rewards: If you don’t know which HCPs are most likely to prescribe your product and target them successfully, you risk wasting time and money on marketing that casts too wide a net. In addition, if the marketing strategy for your new product starts strong with clinical stories but then falters in market access messaging, pull through will suffer. Instead, by targeting the right HCPs with timely market access messaging that reflects changing access for your brand, you can maximize your time and budget and become more of a consultative partner to your HCPs.

How to Prepare: Use tools that get practice-specific and are automated to change with your new brand’s changing access landscape. Develop a target list of HCPs well ahead of marketing to them. Before having formulary data for your new product, put in place a market access omnichannel marketing strategy so you will be ready to deliver timely practice-level market access messages.

More market access advanced pharma companies are adapting HCP launch targets based on propensity to prescribe analytics incorporating a variety of influence data points including market access levers. Modifying HCP journeys to reflect the impact of market access and integrate market access exposures are no longer future-thinking.

And finally, employing a pull-through platform that accommodates differential optimal market access messages to account for individual HCP access variation and rate of change through the first year of launch is now best practice.

5. Staffing changes shift market access responsibilities

The Scenario: Taking on a new role — or a change in company structure or leadership — can suddenly make market access marketing your team’s responsibility. This change can be a sudden shift. With little notice, you are driving new or greater responsibilities related to market access marketing.

Risks and Benefits: While it’s impossible to expect when this situation might happen, understanding the value of personalized market access messaging and personalized delivery channels puts your team in a position to adapt quickly and be successful if it does happen. Market access marketing has undergone significant changes in recent years and is no longer pull-through sell sheets and formulary win announcements. Instead of just new or more responsibilities, you can set yourself up for new and greater opportunities to grow and show your marketing savvy, but you need a trusted advisor who is current with emerging marketing and technology trends.

How to Prepare: If your team finds itself newly responsible for a brand’s market access marketing, look to your peers and engage new partners for support to grow your product’s market access tools and messaging along with your own knowledge, skills and experience. In addition to payer agencies that focus exclusively on market access initiatives, there are now specialized market access product organizations and consultancies with a singular focus on market access and pull-through innovation. When you look first to trusted sources and partners that can integrate with the data and governance you have already employed, you build efficiency into your strategy and equip your market access team to be more effective faster.

How are you planning to manage market access events?

As the squeeze on healthcare budgets continues to tighten, and payers reward big-spending brands that can promise lower costs to patients, market access changes will continue to shake up how products should be marketed. But you can control how you handle the shakeup and accelerate your brand’s speed to market.

What if you could prevent a disruptive market event from hijacking your marketing strategy and pull-through success?

Making shifts in market access work to your advantage requires planning and developing more personalized strategies. Preparing for change can position you and your brand to survive and thrive.

A fully loaded market access marketing strategy leverages data to help your team better engage with HCPs and increase their willingness to prescribe. See how this looks in action inside our latest guide, How to Boost Rx Growth With Personalized Access Messaging. Download it here.