A journey through the German healthcare system

Market Access for Roche

In order to develop a new kind of medicine, it is necessary to invest in research for several years. Yet  this is not enough: As soon as a new medicine emerged, it needs to be proven that this one is better than the other one’s which are available on the market. Dealing with this is the key task of our colleagues in Grenzach who are working in Market Access.

Siri H. (28) completed her Bachelor’s degree in business administration in Göttingen and further did her Master’s degree in Health Economics and Healthcare Management in Essen.

Björn L. (34) studied Biology with Business Administration as minor subject in Berlin. Afterwards he did his Ph.D. and worked as a postdoctoral researcher.

Since April 2014 both are Trainees specializing in the area of Market Access in Grenzach within the two-year Management Start-Up Program.

What is your major work in Market Access?

Björn L.: It is our mission to provide access for our patients to pharmaceuticals that are available in the German healthcare system and also provide an appropriate refund of their expenses by benefactors. Therefore, the Pharmaceutical Market Restructuring Act (Arzneimittelmarkt-Neuordnungsgesetz - AMNOG), which was adopted in 2011, plays a central role for our work.

What does the Pharmaceutical Market Restructuring Act include?

Björn L.: The AMNOG claims evidence of an added value that is offered by a new medicine in comparison to other medicines which are already approved to the market. In other words, it is necessary that the marked receives an improvement. For example, a part of our work in Market Access is, to check on global research studies if we can show an added value for our new product according to the law. This happens already years before the product is ready to enter the market. Another entity of Market Access coordinates and creates a paper that gives evidence of the usage of the product and also its added value. This dossier is necessary for the reasoning asked by the government.

What exactly are your main tasks?

Siri H.: Us Trainees, we are rotating throughout the four different divisions of Market Access and work on different projects in each unit. Me, for example, I am currently supporting a project manager by helping him with writing the evidence paper for a product. This is a very diverse job, because we are working in a scientific, cross-functional and interdisciplinary team. Thus, it is necessary to focus on time-management as well as substantially coordination.

That means you are not doing laboratory work?

Siri H.: No, you could call us woolly academic. The laboratory research happens a long time before we get in touch with the process. It takes up to 12 years, including a lot of research and first clinical surveys, before Market Access is thrown into the game.

Björn L.: For example, one of our breast cancer products needed to go through the whole AMNOG process in the end of 2014. By using clinical studies, we approved that the new medicine has a higher efficacy besides causing less side effects for our patients in comparison to previous products for this disease.

What are the main challenges you have to face?

Siri H.: We face the major challenge that we are working in the very complex German Healthcare System. This includes laws like the AMNOG and many other regulations which make our job more complicated. It is necessary for us to keep track of those laws and regulations. Thus, the opportunity to get to know the different units of Market Access and gain special expertise throughout our Trainee Program is very helpful. Another challenge is to edit the data we are receiving by our product surveys in an academic way, so it meets the governmental requirements.

Björn L.: Additionally, it is necessary to mention that in 2011, the time where AMNOG entered the market, the government couldn’t provide all contingencies. That’s also the reason why AMNOG is called a ‘learning system’. Thus, for our scientific papers, we face the opportunity to become connected with governmental representatives whom we can ask about our scientific questions regarding the required added value or other uncertainties before we hand in the final paper.

Doesn’t Market Access usually include things like pricing?

Siri H.: Yes, we have a special unit in Market Access that is working on this topic. Pricing is also a process which is connected with the AMNOG: Since the law applied in 2011, pharmaceutical companies are allowed to set the price for the first year they enter the market themselves. In the following years, the price is governmentally re-negotiated based on the above mentioned evaluation papers.

In this case, with whom do you negotiate?

Siri H.: Those negotiations are held with the National Association of Statutory Health Insurances. Depending on the added value, whether the medicine is significantly better than the old one, your negotiation position, of course, improves.

What made you think about the Management Start-Up Program at Roche?

Siri H.: After my graduation I thought that a Traineeship will be the perfect opportunity for entering a job. I already got to know what to do in Market Access during an internship, so I didn’t have to think about it as I read the job offer on a job site. Additionally, I already knew that Roche is the leading company concerning the development of new pharmaceuticals.

Björn L.: I already worked in medical research for several years, as I noticed that I can indeed discover the reasons for certain diseases, but have no possibility to develop new pharmaceuticals with my gained knowledge. I also knew few colleagues who switched to Roche and who were telling me about this great employer. Additionally, I noticed that the whole area of Market Access was re-structured by the introduction of AMNOG. That was the time I realized that a lateral entrance via the Trainee Program is reasonable for me.

In your opinion, for whom do you think the Management Start-Up Program in Market Access could be interesting?

Siri H.: The area of Market Access is a combination of science and economics. Thus, economists – especially health economists – are as welcome as scientists because of their economic background. Exactly this mixture of disciplines on our site in Grenzach with e.g. biologists, chemists, doctors and economists, makes our work varied and excitingly diverse.

Björn L.: You should have an expertise in one of the basic subjects, either science or economics. Additionally, applicants for the Trainee Program need a Master’s degree or a Diploma. Further, it is important to be good in communications and helpful to be curious. It is also helpful if you are able to see things from other people’s viewpoints, because you are working with people who have different backgrounds and interest. Within the Trainee Program we have a special Curriculum with several seminars and trainings that are supporting exactly those soft skills needed. Those trainings are held for all Trainees who are located in Grenzach, so you have the possibility to network with colleagues from different departments.

What are your plans after you finished your Trainee-Program?

Siri H.: We are on permanent contracts, which are not restricted to the Trainee Program. After the two years of the Traineeship, it is already planned that we start in one of the four divisions of Market Access.

© Roche in cooperation with e-fellows.net, 25.03.2015

Tags: Career Blog, Germany