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Women Leaders in Market Access: An interview with Paula Albuquerque from UCB

June 5th, 2024

In our podcast series, “Women Leaders in Market Access,” we engage in insightful interviews with eight inspiring individuals who are remarkable leaders in the global market access community.

This interview spotlights Paula from UCB. At the time of recording this interview, Paula Albuquerque was the Director of Global Market Access Immuno Rheumatology at UCB. She has since progressed into a Global Strategic Launch Excellence role. 

With a comprehensive global background in healthcare, pharmaceutical, biotech, and management consulting sectors, Paula focuses on translating science into commercial value propositions. In this interview, she shares insights on her career journey, her upbringing, and her mission to make science accessible for all.

Q1: Can you tell us about your background and journey to market access?

My journey to market access began in my childhood. Growing up in a family of doctors, I was surrounded by compassion and generosity. This influenced my belief that everyone should have equitable access to medicines and healthcare. Seeing my grandpa and my mother work hard and care for others inspired my career choices and led me to market access.

Q.2 Given that many members of your family are in the medical profession, were you ever tempted to explore a career in that avenue yourself?

I admire doctors but didn’t want that for myself. I wanted to have an impact on the patient journey without being on the front line. I decided to study pharmaceutical sciences, which started when a friend mentioned it. This led me to pursue a doctorate in pharmaceutical science. Today, I define myself as a scientist driven by the purpose of bringing science to the market.

Q3: What motivates and drives you to stay focused on that core value?

My passion is bringing science to the market. Science and innovation must reach the market to benefit anyone. I’ve seen many valuable molecules and programs fail due to lack of evidence or financial constraints. My motivation is to translate scientific benefits into commercial value propositions, considering patient needs, care giver roles, and healthcare system requirements. I was inspired by the concept of reverse innovation, which looks at market needs and translates them through science.

Q4: Why would you say market access has been rewarding as a career path for you?

Market access is rewarding and intellectually stimulating because it involves combining various perspectives to bring science to the market. It requires leveraging expertise in pricing, access, evidence generation, and health economics. Success comes from collective work across disciplines and functions. This collaborative approach, along with the opportunity to make an impact, makes the job intellectually rewarding.

Q5: Reflecting on your career, what significant changes have you witnessed?

Three remarkable transitions stand out. The first was after completing my executive MBA, which opened doors to different industries and led to a global role in London. The second was moving to Spain to set up a new team in access pricing at a research and development organisation. The third was launching a global brand in the immunology space at UCB. Each transition followed a period of reflection and learning.

Q6: What advice do you have for market access professionals preparing for future changes and challenges?

Embrace periods of slowing down to reflect and build on new skills before jumping into the next opportunity. Be opportunistic while staying true to your core values. Stay curious and explore new sources of information like artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning. Be open to new partnerships with healthcare systems, insurers, and public payers to transform the patient journey and provide holistic healthcare.

Q7: What is your experience working with the team at Access Infinity?

Working with Access Infinity feels like being part of their team. They share our objectives and goals, making it a rewarding collaboration. Their ability to seamlessly build the right team for each project and adapt as needed instills trust and ensures success. They are Type A professionals who strengthen our team and contribute to our success.

Q8: Can you tell us more about your current role at UCB? What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me involves setting intentions and planning activities for the day. My workday is busy with meetings, often virtual, as we are a global team. We discuss, brainstorm, and collaborate to bring new molecules to the market. The work is intense and demanding, requiring quick transitions between topics.

Q9: What changes do you anticipate for market access in the future?

Access will be at the core of the future of the pharmaceutical industry, especially after the pandemic. Topics like sustainability, affordability, and equity in healthcare will become even more significant. Market access professionals will need to redefine these principles and drive change. There will be a need for holistic approaches, integrating data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning into our work.

Q10: Any advice for market access professionals looking to prepare for these changes?

Stay open-minded and explore beyond traditional strategies. Consider new partnerships with healthcare systems, insurers, and public payers. Use data and technology to inform decisions and improve the patient journey. Stay curious and embrace innovation to bring science to the market effectively.

To list to the complete interview with Paula, click here or search ‘Market Access Matters’ on any major podcast directory.