Changes to the NHS in England and Wales mean the pharma industry has to adapt its marketing efforts to effectively communicate with several stakeholders, according to a panel of experts discussing the subject in a webinar.
The discussion brought together Bayer Healthcare's Philip Ashman, Sue Kilby a leading UK payer, Kantar Health's Mark Sales and Sudler & Hennessey's Norbert Brunhuber, all of whom provided a different angle on the impact of NHS on the industry's ability to bring a drug to market.
The over-riding theme was that the industry needs to better understand the different relationships between groups involved in healthcare, as plans are introduced that mean commissioning will transfer from primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) to GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and the national commissioning board.
Understanding the evolving role of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), especially its function as part of the planned introduction of a value-based pricing (VBP) scheme in 2014, was also key for effective market access strategies over the coming years.
The need to properly communicate with these different groups is seen by all as key. A large part of this is developing the skills set of the pharma salesforce, according to Kilby who has more 30 years of experience in UK healthcare.
“They are still very much product focused, and you can understand that because they have shareholders to answer to,” she said of the way pharma companies operate now. “They have parameters they are used to working to, but they need a more customer-focused marketing ethos, and to understand what our issues are.”
Part of that is developing a clinical understanding, and an awareness of what the impact of changing healthcare policy means to each stakeholder.
Kilby also suggested that current codes may have to be amended to allow more concise communications between pharma and NHS. “I don't have much time and I'm being pulled in different directions, so I don't want to see six different people from the same company.”
Ashman, who is head of market access at Bayer HealthCare UK, agreed that the industry needs to adapt in order to develop a message that is relevant across the healthcare continuum. The recently launched NICE pathways, which provide a structured approach to laying out guidance, offer one possible way of improving dialogue with payers.
The uncertainty of what VBP will mean for market access was a pressing point for Ashman too, pointing out that its introduction may even reduce access to drugs for patients depending on how attractive a launch market it makes the UK.
The webinar was produced in association with Sudler & Hennessey, Kantar Health and PMGroup.