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  • Douglas Bock

Understanding Pharmaceutical Market Access Differences in the US and Europe


Understanding Pharmaceutical Market Access Differences in the US and Europe

Understanding Pharmaceutical Market Access Differences in the US and Europe


By Douglas Bock and Bertrand Tardivel


Most pharma and biotech companies today serve global patient populations. Inevitably, a larger footprint requires diversity in expertise across not only geographies but also in how roles and responsibilities differentiate based on location.


One particular area that can vary greatly across two of the largest commercial markets - The United States and Europe – is market access. In both markets, the market access function is undeniably essential to commercial success. However, market access teams in the US can often have very different responsibilities than their counterparts in Europe.


For those launching products in the US and Europe, it’s important to understand, anticipate, and prepare for the differences in market access roles in order to develop a cohesive global strategy.


Pharmaceutical Market Access US vs Europe

The overarching similarity in market access functions globally is responsibility for ensuring that a product will be accessible. This means a focus on whether a product is paid for by third-party payers in the US or by the range of private and governmental payers across Europe. Demonstrating clinical efficacy, safety, and value at the right price is paramount no matter the location.


Notable differences between the approach to market access in the US and Europe include:

  • The relative lack of patient services in Europe, which are not typically offered as part of the healthcare ecosystem today

  • Distribution strategy and support, including third-party logistics, wholesale, specialty distribution, and pharmacy, are part of market access in the US. In Europe, these functions naturally exist but are often handled by a completely separate team and reporting structure

  • There are fewer payers in Europe than in the US, but there are more countries where price and reimbursement must be negotiated. Each country in Europe has its own evaluation and negotiation framework using medical evaluation (added benefit of the therapy vs. an active comparator), economic evaluation (notably Cost/Effectiveness and comparing against standard of care), and international reference pricing (IRP). It is common to have complex pathways which combine some or all of these methods.


Recognizing, understanding, and accounting for the differences in local market access functions is essential to a cohesive global commercialization strategy. At Archbow, we support market access functions in the US and Europe, for new and existing products, by drawing on expertise at the local and global level. For support with your global market access needs, contact us today.



Archbow Consulting helps pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the USA and Europe design, build, and optimize product distribution and patient access strategies. Archbow was founded by industry veterans to meet a need in the marketplace for consulting options that offer diverse real-world experience, are able to leverage deep connections across the industry, and can also provide actionable strategic guidance. We invite you to learn more about our team, services, and clients’ success, and connect with us via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or subscribing to this blog which you can do below.


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