Market Access Blog

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Reflections on 10 years of MAP Patient Access

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of MAP Patient Access. Hitting this important company milestone is a great time to look back at MAP’s journey so far and share our future plans.

We catch up with MAP’s Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Christian Hill and CEO Dan Spacie.

Q: Christian, you and your wife Dawn set up MAP 10 years ago. Please take us on a brief journey of why you started and how the company has evolved since.

Christian: MAP was born from a combination of two things; one was my childhood illness and subsequent cure thanks to a determined RAF healthcare professional when the NHS concluded I would be paralysed for life i.e., I wanted to help others to avoid costly delays to effective treatment. The other was my enjoyment in helping lots of companies at once via industry association Chair roles when I was ‘in house’ at life sciences companies. It was Dawn’s initial idea in response to hearing my complaints of the service I was getting from vendors, using her creativity and approach to keep things simple as she used to do in her UK Government civil service roles, and applying this to the world of getting effective treatments to patients. Over the past 10 years, we have grown from the two of us to a team of 50 of the best and exceptionally talented staff from across our sector. We have supported over 160 companies to get 292 products to patients, through over 400 projects, including the fastest ever access for patients through the NICE highly specialised (HST) and single technology appraisal (STA) processes.

Q: What changes have you seen in the market access and wider industry during that time?

Christian: Honestly, not a lot! There seems to be a revolving door of innovative ideas, many of which sadly do not make it to the front line of accelerating access for patients. When I think back to 1998 when I joined the pharmaceutical industry in a Sales and Marketing role, we had to persuade hospital and community pharmacy formulary groups of the value proposition of products. Today, we do this primarily on a national level, but most of the arguments and methods are more similar than they are different.

Technically, health economics methodology has evolved hugely, which increases the involvement of academic groups in scrutinising company models. This has seen a reduction in the power of the clinician and patient voices in decision-making, but it has also enabled companies to capture more areas where value can be demonstrated.

Overall, we as society need to be very careful what we wish for i.e., greater scrutiny of value for the tax payer is a good thing, but when applied to areas of uncertainty such as the lifetime value of one off potentially curative cell and gene therapies, which can keep people alive towards a normal life span, where they would have otherwise succumbed as a child, we have to realise the inevitable delay to patient access that is at risk due to NHS payers and companies negotiating over that uncertainty. An alternative approach is permitting immediate access at the point of licensing, provided that all parties agree to negotiate in good faith on a justifiable demonstration of value, including safeguards. Financially, this is a complicated solution that some may consider to be unviable, but what is the alternative?

Q: What is your proudest moment in the 10 years since MAP was set up?

Christian: Seeing MAP’s team achieve the fastest ever positive NICE guidance with little involvement from me in an area of profound unmet patient need.

Q: What have been the key highlights?

Christian: Seeing the tremendous success that members of our MAP service have achieved with limited hands-on support; supporting many very small companies with limited internal resource to achieve success in areas of rare, orphan and cell & gene therapies; and finally seeing our team grow to become the most successful in the industry (by accelerating patient access measures).

Q: What is one major challenge you’ve faced in these 10 years?

Christian: Realising that ‘heroic leadership’ does not work. As one builds a company, one must accept, as all successful business owners do, that one cannot do it all. Our people are our most important asset, second only to the wealth of experience that we have built, the insights from which can and do help multitudes of other companies via our ‘MAP membership’ model.

Q: If you could go back in time, what’s one piece of advice you would give yourself 10 years ago?

Christian: Invest more in exceptionally talented and inexperienced people, many of them have been the key to our success, even when others have been sceptical that they could succeed. I have lost count of the times when a new post-graduate colleague has impressed me with their creativity, tenacity and will to make a difference.

Q: Dan, you joined as CEO earlier this year. How does MAP stand out from other agencies in the industry?

Dan: MAP is unique in this space due to a number of factors.  We are very fortunate to have fantastic relationships with a wide number of important industry bodies, such as NICE and EUCOPE, and these have been built in consistently delivering results with both these organisations and our members over the last 10 years. We are also fortunate to have a fantastic, driven team who are passionate about delivering innovative treatments into patients.

Q: Can you describe MAP in one sentence?

Dan: I would describe MAP as the market access professional’s market access agency, and by this I mean that we excel in delivering complex therapies to the market – which are often categorised as rare, orphan or cell and gene therapy treatments.

Q: Can you describe a typical MAP-er in one sentence?

Dan: A ’MAP-er’ is a combination of a number of things, and we have tried to encapsulate this in our values; Community, Ambition, Respect and Excellence. We believe in the power of collaboration, driving for results and, in essence, truly ‘making a difference’.

Q: What does the future hold for MAP?

Christian and Dan: Continued leadership of the rare, orphan and cell & gene therapy space in the UK while expanding on our success in strategically support of companies in Europe and more broadly. Our aim is to be the ‘go-to’ expert in supporting companies in achieving a positive outcome via the European Union Health Technology Assessment processes, which are coming into effect from January 2025.  We want to become synonymous with launching innovative therapies into the market.

Q: What’s one piece of Christian / Dan trivia that no one knows?

Christian is an instrument rated pilot.

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Dan enjoys nothing more than being the ‘wine guy’ (and chief taster) in his wife’s catering business.

Q: If you could fly all the MAP employees to any destination for a 10th-anniversary celebration, where would that be?

Christian: Bulembu. Not many will recognise this name. It is in Eswatini (Swaziland), a small, beautiful kingdom between South Africa and Mozambique, and is in dire need. Seeing the success of this community working with such passion and enthusiasm, with very limited resources and with such a devastating health history is a beacon of hope to other struggling communities and patients, including those in our own United Kingdom. I would like to take some (maybe all) of our team to support some of the ongoing work and to work alongside the local community. If given a second option, I would add any of the places that Help for Hope support including preventing child trafficking in Vietnam, which has required social and healthcare support amongst many other activities.

Thank you to Christian and Dan for your time.

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