May 13. Assembled at 9.00 am in a room of IE Business School in Madrid; the seats arranged so that everyone could see each other. Coffee, biscuits and some pastries. The sobriety needed to think and dialogue in a tight hour and a half. We have assembled the Directors of Corporate Affairs of the leading pharmaceutical companies in a breakfast we have entitled Government Affairs versus Market Access: Challenges of the Department of Corporate Affairs of a Pharmaceutical Company. We consider ourselves generators and drivers of knowledge and talent.
We begin exchanging cards:
- Hi, I’m the Director of Corporate Affairs, Market Access and Corporate Communication;
- … Good morning, I’m the Director of Institutional Relations.
- Hello, I’m the European Director of Medical Affairs.
After the first minute of conversation everybody discovered they had the same activity with different titles. This was the first point Pedro made us see; he represents a company with 14,000 employees.
Until now, Market Access has been trending topic and Corporate Affairs no
The Department of Corporate Affairs of the pharmaceutical companies is maturing. These last years, the Market Access activity has absorbed most of the resources; as someone stated, “since doctors lost some capacity for decision in pharmaceutical expenditure…” Until now, Market Access has been trending topic, David, Director of Corporate Relations in one of the leading European pharmaceutical companies, points out. Guillermo – who works in one of the best top companies to work according to Actualidad Económica – notes the historical “dismemberment” of the activity in several departments: Legal, Market Access, Patients, Compliance, Price and Brand… and also great part of the job in the associations has been delegated, but without a proactive guide.
Market Access and Corporate Affairs are different and complementary activities. The first one directed to the so called payer, the second one focused on the policymaker – the one who designs the public policy which includes the health expenditure -. In some companies both activities have been gathered under the “MAPA Department”, highlights Jaime, who represents a company of Asian origin with more than 30 research centers.
Most agree that this department has not had a predetermined and stable structure where both the Management Committee and the rest of departments know their exact function. “The lobbyist” has been considered the one who walks around the hall; the one who knows all the officials and the administration and has people skills. Definitely, his capacity has been reduced to the “relational element”, pondered again David and Guillermo.
The strategy is marked by the anticipation and methodology
Nitida, a director with European responsibility, emphasizes the importance of defining the added value of the department. In her opinion, this added value has a name: STRATEGY. Only to the extent that strategy is provided to the business, we will be valued. If we are seen as the one “walking around the hall” our activity will not be a true cost to reduce or limit when they come wrongly made…
The strategy is mainly marked by anticipation (what could be named proactive lobby) against the reaction or crisis situation (reactive lobby). Regulatory changes and pricing models cannot be modified from one day to another, and you don’t participate in the decisions of the executive just by going to a meeting in which the risk of taking cuttings to avoid spending is presented.
Jorge, with 12 years experience “on the other side” (attorney and with several management positions in Parliament) highlights the importance of providing knowledge, data, contents to the public decider. Only so “can you have legitimacy to influence and help in decision taking”, he emphasizes.
Jaime highlighted the necessity to better professionalize strategy more. For example, in the case of Spain, the business is still done as it was done before the transfer of powers to the Autonomous Communities. Nevertheless, the decision taking in pharmaceutical expenditure, the possibilities of public-private collaboration, and the relation with associations and colleges, has changed.
The added value of the Department articulates in at least 5 elements
Having audited companies from other industries and according to the knowledge incorporated in our International Program, we observe that the Department of Corporate Affairs requires articulating its Added value at least with 5 elements:
- A clear definition of the department’s misión,
- The design of the specific functions – specifically, how will we help to the development of the value and business of the company –
- A specific methodology where the relational weight is the less important
- KPIs and a system to measure results
- An open communication channel to the Management Committee or the CEO to transfer the strategic value which will allow taking the business decisions.
10.30. It has been a short time for all of us. All contributions have been of great value. It should be repeated. We are appointed for a second breakfast in November 2015. To continue with the day!