Without effective market access, patients lose trust in the ability of the entire health care system to ensure access to therapies. Furthermore, market access challenges can undermine the trust of other important stakeholders: providers who prescribe and administer treatments, private and public payers that pay for them, and researchers and investors who contribute to innovation.
While successful market access strategy and execution are universally important, our research suggests that more nuanced approaches are necessary. We found that market access activities behind successful launches often vary based on product type. Therefore, we introduce a therapeutic archetype framework that can help life sciences companies improve the success of their product launches and deliver on the brand ambition. We propose five archetypes that take into account product, patient, disease area, market characteristics, and product technology, and the evolution of drug pipelines from broad patient populations to more targeted indications and personalized therapies. The archetypes are:
- General medicine (such as cardiovascular, diabetes, or respiratory)
- High-volume specialty (such as multiple sclerosis, immunology, hepatitis C)
- Rare disease, including cell and gene therapies
Our research suggests that launch preparation should begin much earlier in the development process by incorporating market access perspectives, engaging a wider set of industry stakeholders, and involving deeper cross-functional collaboration. We report our research findings within the context of the strategic choices that organizations should make.
- What is the winning ambition? A disciplined approach to market access should begin with formulating the objectives for the brand and how these objectives will support the overarching commercial goals. This includes a robust understanding of the access landscape and cross-functional alignment on clear and specific access goals.
- Where to play? Manufacturers should consider factors such as the treatment context, how stakeholders make decisions about using the product, who the priority stakeholders are, which access options are most appropriate and viable, and the trade-offs that come with them.
- How to win? Winning in a competitive market requires thinking through how to define and communicate the brand’s value to stakeholders, and determine approaches to pricing, contracting, reimbursement, affordability, and fulfillment.
- How to execute? Organizations should define, prioritize, and execute cross-functional actions while continuously monitoring results and adjusting to market conditions. This may require conscious trade-offs and adjustments to the execution plan.
As launches become more complex, companies should consider these strategic questions and specific launch and market access requirements. Operationalizing these requirements through archetype-based launch planning can help them execute new launches successfully.
The ever-increasing costs of drug development, intense competition, payer controls, and complex distribution logistics have made it challenging for pharma companies to get the launch strategy right. Deloitte’s study that analyzed drug launches in the United States shows that success at launch significantly impacts the product’s revenue trajectory in later years, yet 36% of drugs launched between 2012 and 2017 missed their launch forecasts. Half (50%) of drug launch failures were attributed to limited market access, followed by inadequate understanding of market and customer needs (46%) and poor product differentiation (44%).5
As we look to the future, we expect market access will continue to loom large over the entire product life cycle. Complex benefit designs, increasingly sophisticated utilization management practices, and payers’ rising market power due to industry consolidation have put market access at the center of launch success. This raises the stakes for launch teams and requires intentional and careful planning around potential access challenges early in the development process and throughout the product life cycle.
In the absence of effective market access, new therapies, even after launch, remain an unfulfilled promise, undermining patient and caregiver trust in the ability of the health care system to ensure access to treatment. Additionally, market access challenges can erode the trust of other key stakeholders: providers who prescribe and administer treatments, private and public payers that pay for them, and researchers and investors who contribute to innovation. Biopharma manufacturers ought to rethink market access and their relationships with stakeholders to ensure market adoption of new treatments.
In this article, we explore critical launch considerations across different types of biopharmaceuticals and share ideas on how to refine future launch approaches based on the unique characteristics and needs for each therapy. We propose that processes based on therapeutic archetypes (see sidebar “Therapeutic archetypes can optimize launch decision-making”) can improve the effectiveness of launch planning and execution.