Creating Access to Innovative Medicines

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While the doctoral thesis itself is already enough of a burden for others, Esmeralda completed a further study program at the same time. Her goal: a job in the pharmaceutical industry – more precisely, at Roche. What she does there as a Trainee in Market Access and why she was happy to leave the laboratory behind for it, she explains in the interview.

You not only gained a doctorate in Immunobiology, but also did a certificate program in Healthcare Management in parallel. Why all the effort?

In fact, it had already been clear to me for a while that I did not want to spend my whole life working in the laboratory. During my time at university, I participated in a number of events at pharmaceutical companies, where I was fascinated by the work areas and people. So, I started to wonder how I could develop in this direction.

On the Internet, I happened upon the certificate course "Healthcare Management" at the University of Freiburg. Naturally, I thought long and hard about whether to do and pay for an additional course during my doctorate, but the subject was so interesting that I decided to go for it. In retrospect, the tuition fees were a great investment. Not only did I learn a lot, but also met a lot of people, with whom I am still in contact. Some of my fellow students are also now my colleagues at Roche.

Zugang schaffen zu innovativen Arzneimitteln


(32) completed her doctorate in Immunobiology at the University of Freiburg and has been a trainee in the start-up program Market Access since April 2015. She works in this area at the Roche Pharma AG in Grenzach-Wyhlen.

In the meantime, you are a Trainee in Market Access at Roche Pharma. What is this area responsible for?

As the name already tells us, we accompany the market access of new drugs, that is, the access for the patients. Since the German Pharmaceutical Market Reorganization Act (AMNOG) came into effect in 2011, pharmaceutical companies must prove that their new drugs have an added value compared to the medications, which are already on the market. For this purpose, a dossier is written, in which it is proven why the preparation is better that the current standard therapy. The described added value is then evaluated with a mark from 1 to 6 by the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA). After the G-BA has completed its assessment, the price negotiations with the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-SV) start. In order to make the new therapies available to as many eligible patients as possible, we enter into discussions with the payers. These are conducted by internal services and the field force.

Why do you find that exciting?

Because you never really know how the different stakeholders will react.

The AMNOG has only existed for a few years, which is quite new for such a system. It is seen explicitly as a learning system. Actually, there are constantly new laws and legislative amendments in healthcare. For me, it is very exciting to be a part of it, when the system is changed accordingly. In this field, I can still learn a lot in any case.

Do a lot of natural scientists work in Market Access?

There is a colorful mixture in the area – we have economists as well as natural scientists, medical doctors and pharmacists. We complement each other very well: The economists offer the economic foundation, the natural scientists, for example, provide an understanding of the mechanism of action of the medications.

How did you actually become aware of the Trainee Program in Market Access?

I participated in a number of events, which Roche offers for students and doctoral candidates. One of them was "Roche meets … Trainees" in Grenzach. By means of the presentations and discussions I got a good impression of what a Market Access Manager does – and through my further training course I, of course, also had some points of reference. In my opinion the Start-up Program in Marketing is also very interesting: During my last trainee station, I will get my feet wet and get a feel for it. The program offers enough flexibility to get to know different areas of the company.

The Trainee Program takes two years, so you will finish in April 2017. Where would you most like to work then?

I like the department that writes the dossiers the best. I also think that I have the most to offer there. Since in order to prove the added value, you need, for example, to deal with the mechanism of action and evaluate clinical studies. There, I of course have an advantage with my studies in immunobiology – especially since immune-oncology is more and more on the rise.

Will you be offered a job after the Trainee Program?

The application process is ongoing, but, in principle, the chances of getting a position in your department of choice are very good after the Trainee Program. Our contracts are unlimited from the very beginning.

What advice do you have for the e-fellows?

I can only recommend that every student should attend corporate events for information and orientation. You won’t only meet people from the industry, but also other students with the same background, with whom you can exchange information and experience.

My fellow Trainees and I noticed just recently at a Trainee get-together that such Events are real door openers. Many of the Trainees had participated in events before joining Roche.

© Roche with, Dec. 2016

Tags: Career Blog, Germany