Fears that relationships built by vendors working for one company will be used to benefit a rival are restricting outsourcing of some market access tasks. Outsourcing of this work, such as government affairs, is limited, but in other sectors of market access vendors are in greater demand.
“Market access is an extremely country-specific operation. Each pharmaceutical market and payer within a market approaches reimbursement and access differently”, Michelle Vitko, research analyst at Cutting Edge Information and lead author on the report, told Outsourcing-Pharma.
Building an experienced in-house team for all geographies and diseases would need “quite the hiring spree”, Vitko said, but staff would only be needed part-time. Instead, companies outsource to regionally-focused consultancies that have enough contracts to employ staff on a full-time basis.
A similar model is used to compensate for a lack of internal expertise. “Scientifically and statistically oriented activities have a higher percentage of their budgets outsourced. These activities require specialisation”, the report said.
However, some respondents expressed concerns about using vendors, particularly for certain tasks. Outsourcing work means it is the service provider that builds relationships that could then be used to help its other clients. Potentially, these clients include rival companies.
“It is most beneficial for companies to keep the relationships in-house, preventing established relationships from benefiting rival companies”, the report said. Most companies surveyed keep all their government affairs and account management work in-house for this reason.
Major vendors are still keen to strengthen market access capabilities though. AmerisourceBergen, Icon and INC Research have all made acquisitions to strengthen market access capabilities this year.
Smaller companies are more likely to outsource reimbursement activities, comparative effectiveness research, and patient-reported outcomes than their larger peers. There are several reasons for this trend.
“It is often cheaper to outsource, especially for smaller companies. Where a small company in an emerging market could do a certain activity, it would require hiring staff dedicated to this task and most times, it just makes better financial sense to outsource it”, Vitko said.
Many larger companies will have already built reimbursement teams for earlier products and can use them for new launches. Smaller teams are less likely to have resources already available, in this and other areas, and so turn to vendors.
The survey also found US-based companies outsource more than their European, Canadian and emerging market counterparts. The reason for this is less clear. “We had a smaller sample size for the non-US regions, which may have contributed to the different percentages”, Vitko said.