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2014 outlook for market access: rising budgets and fewer patent expirations

The big life science companies were struck by a number of patent expirations last year. Among others, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck all saw profits from their portfolio-leading products decimated by competition from generics.

This year has been kind by comparison, with profit losses resulting from the expiration of patent protection thought to be about half of the estimated $55 billion in 2012.

Perhaps as a result, budgets for market access have recovered. This chart shows that one of the effects of the 2012 ‘patent cliff’ was less investment in local and regional customer engagement, as companies restructured, re-strategized and braced themselves for a hit.

2013’s increase in money for market access is expected to continue into next year. This is good news, as the importance of engagement with payers and healthcare providers has never been so great. The healthcare industry has faced its own budgetary crises, and key account managers must communicate a compelling value story to local budget holders.

As far as patent expirations are concerned, next year will be much the same as this one, with lower losses compared to 2012. That’s the outlook for the industry as a whole, but it’s little comfort for those companies with top-selling drugs about to come off patent. We’re also in the eye of the storm, with products worth over $66 billion losing protection in 2015.

With competition from generics on the rise, maintaining a strong local market access team is more important than ever. Key account managers should be able to bring evidence from health economics and outcomes research into discussions with payers to show the long-term clinical and economic benefits of investing in new drugs and medical devices.