Market access

Access to the pharmaceutical market and launch strategies

Without effective market access, patients lose faith in the ability of the entire healthcare system to ensure access to therapies. In addition, difficulties in accessing the market can undermine the trust of other important stakeholders: the providers who prescribe and administer the treatments, the private and public payers who pay for them, and the researchers and investors who contribute to the innovation.

While a successful go-to-market strategy and execution is universally important, our research suggests that more nuanced approaches are needed. We found that the market access activities behind successful launches often vary by product type. Therefore, we introduce a therapeutic archetype framework that can help life science companies improve the success of their product launches and achieve brand ambition. We offer five archetypes that consider product, patient, disease domain, market characteristics and product technology, as well as the evolution of drug pipelines from large patient populations to more targeted indications and personalized therapies. The archetypes are:

  • Vaccines
  • General medicine (such as cardiovascular, diabetes or respiratory)
  • High volume specialty (such as multiple sclerosis, immunology, hepatitis C)
  • Oncology
  • Rare disease, including cell and gene therapies

Our research suggests that preparation for launch should begin much earlier in the development process by integrating market access perspectives, engaging a broader set of industry stakeholders, and involving deeper cross-functional collaboration. We report our research findings in the context of the strategic choices organizations should make.

  • What is the winning ambition? A disciplined approach to market access should begin with articulating brand goals and how those goals will support overriding business objectives. This includes a solid understanding of the access landscape and cross-functional alignment around clear and specific access goals.
  • Where to play? Manufacturers need to consider factors such as the treatment context, how stakeholders make decisions about product use, who are priority stakeholders, what access options are most appropriate and viable , and the trade-offs that go with them.
  • How to win? Winning in a competitive market requires thinking about how to define and communicate brand value to stakeholders, and determining approaches to pricing, contract, reimbursement, affordability and fulfillment. .
  • How to execute? Organizations must define, prioritize and execute cross-functional actions while continuously monitoring results and adapting to market conditions. This may require conscious compromises and adjustments to the execution plan.

As launches become more complex, companies need to consider these strategic questions and specific launch and market access requirements. Operationalizing these requirements through archetype-based launch planning can help them execute new launches successfully.


The ever-increasing costs of drug development, intense competition, payer controls and complex distribution logistics have made it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to define the right launch strategy. Deloitte’s study that analyzed drug launches in the United States shows that launch success has a significant impact on the product’s revenue trajectory in subsequent years, but 36% of drugs launched between 2012 and 2017 missed their launch forecasts. Half (50%) of drug launch failures were attributed to limited market access, followed by poor understanding of market and customer needs (46%) and poor product differentiation (44% ).5

Looking to the future, we expect market access to continue to feature prominently throughout the product life cycle. Complex benefit designs, increasingly sophisticated usage management practices, and the growing market power of payers due to industry consolidation have placed market access at the center of launch success. This raises the stakes for release teams and requires intentional and careful planning around potential access challenges early in the development process and throughout the product lifecycle.

Without effective market access, new therapies, even after launch, remain an unfulfilled promise, undermining the confidence of patients and caregivers in the health system’s ability to ensure access to treatment. In addition, market access difficulties can erode the trust of other key stakeholders: providers who prescribe and administer treatments, private and public payers who pay for them, and researchers and investors who contribute to innovation. . Biopharmaceutical manufacturers need to rethink market access and their relationships with stakeholders to ensure market uptake of new treatments.

In this article, we explore critical launch considerations across different types of biopharmaceuticals and share insights on how to refine future launch approaches based on the unique characteristics and needs of each therapy. We propose that processes based on therapeutic archetypes (see sidebar “Therapeutic Archetypes Can Optimize Launch Decision-Making”) can improve the efficiency of launch planning and execution.