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Women Leaders in Market Access: An interview with Pfizer's Séverine Barquart

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 Q&A is with Séverine Barquart from Pfizer.

At the time of recording, Séverine was Director of Global Market Access for Medical Dermatology at Pfizer and has since progressed into a new role as Access Strategist Team Lead for Hospital Portfolio. Séverine has been at Pfizer for over 20 years. She started her career wanting to be a pharmacist, but after joining Pfizer realized that market access is in her heart.

Read on to hear about Séverine’s view on the evolution of market access. To listen to the full podcast episode, click here.

Q1: Can you introduce yourself?

I am a pharmacist by background and am married. I have celebrated 23 years of marriage with my husband. We have two sons and two dogs. I have always lived in France. I grew up in the countryside, in a very small city, and then moved to the suburbs of Paris to study pharmacy. Now, I live in a small city in the suburbs with a garden because I love gardening. Trees and green areas are key to my happiness and peace.

My journey in market access has always made me want to be a pharmacist. After earning my pharmaceutical degree, I decided to move into regulatory affairs, which at that time included pricing and reimbursement. This area fascinated me during university because it combined scientific knowledge with strategic thinking, allowing me to help patients access important medications.

Q.2 Given your initial aspiration to become a pharmacist, what specific factors during your university studies prompted the shift from being on the frontline to working within a pharmaceutical company?

I have always loved innovation, and working in a pharmaceutical company allowed me to be part of a story where new drugs could improve patients’ lives. This desire drove me towards market access. Being involved in the critical phase between product development and launch was exciting because it meant I could help ensure patients gained access to these new treatments.

Q3: What makes market access a rewarding space to work in for you?

My career started in regulatory affairs at Pfizer, then I moved to the pricing and reimbursement team in France, which I enjoyed. Negotiating with payers and developing arguments to manage their objections was fulfilling. Eventually, I wanted to leverage my experience in a more diverse way, sharing my expertise across different countries. This led me to a global role, particularly in the Africa and Middle East regions. Supporting colleagues in these regions by sharing best practices and negotiation tips was particularly rewarding.

Q4: What would you say is the key to a strong negotiation?

The key is listening. Understanding the payer’s needs, discussing openly, accepting silence, and asking questions are crucial. As negotiators, we often focus on our goals, but it’s important to remember that the payer has their own objectives too. Building trust, asking the right questions, and truly listening to their concerns are vital to creating a productive dialogue.

Q5: You mentioned market access and pricing when you first started your career was part of regulatory affairs. What do you think was the driver for the separation and market access becoming its own function?

The separation occurred due to the evolving complexity of price and reimbursement approvals. Initially, it was mainly price-driven: once marketing authorisation was obtained, you negotiated the price and got reimbursement. However, in the 1990s, health technology assessment (HTA) became more complex and demanding. Requests for data comparisons with competitors, budget impact models, and cost-effectiveness analysis became common. This complexity made market access a critical cornerstone for product launch and patient access, necessitating its separation from regulatory affairs.

Q6: Acknowledging the significant driver for change you've mentioned, have there been other changes throughout your career that you've observed, and what makes them particularly significant for you?

One major change is the shift in focus from high target population products, like those for cardiovascular diseases or depression, to treatments for rare diseases or small target populations with unmet needs. The cost of developing new products has increased due to the need for competitive data and more extensive analysis. This shift has resulted in higher prices for new products compared to the past.

Q7: What would you say have been your key learnings and key takeaways from your career in market access so far?

My key learning is that as a woman, it is crucial to trust yourself and recognise that your experience adds value to the company. Don’t be afraid of being a young woman in a big pharma company. Your perspective and expertise are important.

Q8: From your perspective, what do you foresee on the horizon for market access? Alternatively, what changes or developments would you like to see shaping the future of market access?

Cost containment will remain a key challenge. I hope to see continued evolution towards equity of access, ensuring all patients worldwide can afford and access new medications. Pharma companies must focus on affordability to ensure that new medicines reach everyone who needs them.

To access the full interview with Séverine, click here. Discover more episodes from the Women Leaders in Market Access podcast series, or find the ‘Market Access Matters’ podcast on all major podcast platforms.