Friday, June 12, 2020

The Ripple Effect of Medication Access Barriers—Disruption to Stakeholder Workflows, Damage to Brand Perception, and Detriment to Innovation

Today’s guest post comes from Julia Phillips, VP, Pharma Accounts & Enablement at CoverMyMeds.

Julia discusses how medication access challenges can negatively impact brand-name drugs.

For more, check out this overview of CoverMyMeds' technology solutions that enhance patients’ access: Enabling Medication Access Through Technology.

Read on for Julia’s insights.

The Ripple Effect of Medication Access Barriers—Disruption to Stakeholder Workflows, Damage to Brand Perception, and Detriment to Innovation
By Julia Phillips, VP, Pharma Accounts & Enablement, CoverMyMeds

Medication access barriers can create a ripple effect in healthcare. Recurring disruptions to provider and pharmacist workflows can lead to a negative perception, and even future avoidance of pharmaceutical brands. In the end, patients lose out on experiencing innovative therapies.

Current events have compounded medication access barriers and further underline the importance of innovative technology for reaching and helping patients during this time.

Through CoverMyMeds’ comprehensive medication access solutions, brands can receive support for the unique challenges at every stage in their lifecycles—and the sudden hardships everyone is now experiencing.


When confronted with an unexpected medical diagnosis, a common first question is, “Are there treatments available?”

In this moment of fear, confusion, and anxiety, it’s no surprise that our first thought is to seek hope and reassurance in medical innovation. In America, the question is almost rhetorical as we have little doubt the answer will be anything other than “Yes.”

Too often, medication access barriers can leave patients empty-handed or with a less effective treatment, and the present healthcare crisis has only made matters worse. Not only do these barriers restrict patients from getting their medications, but they also can impact funding for future research and development projects.

Identifying medication access barriers and understanding their influence on healthcare stakeholders are key for developing solutions to help pharmaceutical brands reach patients in need.

By recognizing brand needs at each lifecycle stage and innovating medication access solutions, CoverMyMeds wants to ensure the answer to the question, “Are there treatments available?” will always be a resounding “Yes!”


For pharmaceutical assets in development, the overall probability for a successful clinical trial is only 14 percent. For the 32,523 clinical trials registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019, this means fewer than ~4,600 products will be considered for final FDA approval.

These setbacks come at a cost. With yearly research and development spending totaling ~$100 billion in the U.S. alone, biopharma companies could collectively lose ~$86 billion per year in failed investments (considering 14 percent success rate). Even for those products that do succeed, the total end-to-end cost for bringing them to market is high—estimated at ~$2.6 billion dollars each. Such expense, coupled with low rates of clinical success, underline significant financial risks for biopharma companies innovating new therapies for patients in need.

For those few assets that achieve FDA approval, commercial success is crucial for biopharma companies to fund future research into new therapies and can depend on ensuring patients continued access to prescribed products. Challenges at each stage of the product lifecycle can frustrate providers and pharmacists while keeping patients from their medications.

Such restricted access can lead brands along an unprofitable track, often characterized by slow market growth at launch, depressed overall market impact, and sharper market share decline following loss of exclusivity.


Affordability concerns, coverage issues and administrative complications are often at the root of poor medication access and can impact brands at any point in their lifecycles—from launch to maturity, and even at loss of exclusivity.

Without affordability options, uninsured patients or those on high deductible health plans (at least ~35% of Americans and likely many more due to current circumstances) may experience high out-of-pocket costs and struggle to afford their medications, which can lead to prescription abandonment. (Source, Source)

Without prior authorization (PA) support, providers and pharmacists may struggle to manage PA requests manually and instead opt to switch the original prescription to a second-choice medication that does not require PA. (Source, Source)

Without support for complicated health care processes (e.g., specialty), patients and providers must manually navigate pre-therapy requirements and administrative workflows on their own, which can significantly delay when patients receive their first dose. (Source, Source)

When healthcare stakeholders are continually confronted with these medication access challenges, it can be damaging to brand reputations. Brands with significant access barriers may lose or never gain momentum in the market as providers and pharmacists avoid them—despite encouraging results from clinical trials indicating the brand’s potential to improve lives.


CoverMyMeds is working alongside biopharma companies to help fuel future research and development efforts that could one day transform patients’ health.

Through CoverMyMeds’ array of innovative medication access products, brands have continuous support to overcome challenges at any lifecycle stage. As each brand is unique, products can be combined and customized to deliver support when it’s needed most.

With support in place, the dividing rift between an ideal brand lifecycle and one plagued by medication access barriers may narrow or even close. For providers and pharmacists, the prescribing experience and perception of brand access are consistent across the entire brand lifecycle through tools and programs that seamlessly integrate into existing workflows—helping to maintain the brand experience despite market or reimbursement headwinds and the fallout of COVID-19.

Download our solutions overview to discover how CoverMyMeds can make a difference for your brand.

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