Don’t Wait: Open Payer Communication During Clinical Development
The most important consideration for any corporate team is its customers. While serving targeted payers is the stated goal of practically every market access teams‘ strategy, many groups fail to incorporate and reflect payer demands and value-adds in their strategic choices. Market access units need to learn from the successes of other functions, like clinical groups that solicit input from regulatory agencies or marketing teams that run focus groups, to ensure that they really address the concerns of their payer audience. To do this often simply requires establishing lines of dialogue between the company and each payer. But to be truly effective, two-way communication must be the dominant model.
In a recent conversation, one market access expert told us that her company just conducted market research among European payers and influencers and discovered that almost universally, payer communication is critical. Payers want to hear about products before companies solicit them for reimbursement contracts. This may seem like an obvious opportunity, but according to the group of payers this expert had surveyed, most pharmaceutical companies refuse to give even a quick overview of upcoming products, which would often suffice to answer payer questions.
If nothing else, talking to payers early on helps to educate and prepare them for future drug launches. Another executive tells us that “communications at an early stage — before products are released to the market — give policymakers and budget holders a chance to predict and plan for the impact of that product.” If they have time to plan and prepare, a higher price tag may not be as scary as it would be if they’re caught unaware at product launch time.
Communication in the other direction holds value, too. A payer without pre-established communication lines into companies may indicate concerns with a prospective price or market segment by simply refusing to reimburse for a new product. But when a strong relationship exists, payers can call account managers and voice concerns about companies’ market access packages. If market access teams address these issues to payers’ satisfaction, they will likely build more successful reimbursement agreements.