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  • Writer's pictureSAKS Market Access Team

Market Access: For a Creative, It May Be the Best Place in Pharma Going Forward

Historically, market access has had a reputation in pharma marketing for being a creative desert. Whether that was ever deserved, the perception has been changing in recent years.

In pharma marketing, the brand side—patient and provider marketing--has always offered creatives the most opportunity to do conceptual work, and that makes it attractive to many writers and art directors. Especially those who haven’t done it yet. Coming up with ad concepts is the ultimate challenge for creatives. It’s both fun and really hard, and kind of magical when it works. Talented people who can do it well are rare. But concepting in pharma, it must be said, can also burn creatives out. The rejection can seem endless, and the legal-regulatory reviews too often sap the energy out of whatever work survives.

Market access offers an alternative for creatives looking to get work that matters actually done. There isn’t a lot of concepting (though it can happen), but it has a lot of other things to offer.

It’s Relevant

Market access is where the pharma marketing future is headed. Communications in this space are moving increasingly to a focus on value and access. The shift is driven by rising healthcare costs, particularly the costs of innovative medicines. (High patient out-of-pocket costs have even led to the introduction of the concept of financial toxicity as a side effect to be considered when assessing a new drug.) As stakeholders throughout the system align to the Triple Aim framework (improving population health while also boosting patient experience and reducing per capita costs), clinical value is increasingly considered against cost. This focus on value will only get sharper in the coming years.

Market access meets this challenge by figuring out how to craft narratives that tell the complete story of our client’s brands, not just the clinical side. If you believe that value is where healthcare is headed, market access creatives are crafting the most important stories in pharma, says SAKS Health CEO Khawar Khokhar: “More and more, market access expertise will need to become part of the skillset of any creative working in pharma.”

It Leads the Brand

Since 2018 legislation opened the way for preapproval information exchange (PIE), these engagements have become a first opportunity to tell pharma customers about a coming innovation and a standard part of product launch plans. Since PIE is for population-based decision makers only, only market access gets to create these pathfinding assets.

It’s Highly Creative

SAKS Health Creative Director Philip Reynolds says that, though they’re generally not tasked with developing the big brand concept, creatives in market access are constantly using their talents to tap into the emotions of their audiences: “It might be a new way to design a population funnel for a payer, or a better visualization of trial data for a health system customer. Finding an empathetic voice for a patient support program. Or just writing a strong headline for a value prop. Interesting creative challenges come up every day.”

At SAKS Health, working in market access serves our mission of enabling Better Healthcare Tomorrow™. We believe that market access is every bit as creative as brand today, and things will only get better. The future promises to bring increased client commitment to market access, with bigger budgets. We may see a trend toward more collaboration and even integration with brand teams. The potential is there now for creatives in all segments of pharma marketing to tell deeper, more meaningful stories of total value to the world.



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