Top 100 Agencies: The Access Group

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A piece for BI's Strategies for Chronic Care program
A piece for BI's Strategies for Chronic Care program

Ask Dave Gagliano, president/CEO of The Access Group, how 2012 went, and he'll point to the end of the year as its high point. “The best part of our year was the last quarter,” he tells MM&M, particularly the last two months.

A total of $8.5 million of billings were carried over onto the 2013 ledger, positioning the US-based indie network nicely for this fiscal year. As of mid-May 2013, the group was nearly 70% toward goal ($22.5 million of a projected $33 million in revenue).

“We're anticipating having one of the better years the [group] has had overall, especially in terms of breadth of service offerings and profitability,” says Gagliano.

Not bad, considering the firm has completely retooled over the last three years. Probably 60-75% of its 2010 roster consisted of chronic-care products. Today that number is just 25-30%, with more than 55% of the portfolio in the specialty space, and 15% in aesthetics or cosmaceuticals, where Access Group always had a presence. The shift resulted from a concerted effort to buffer the network against the patent cliff, cost containment and comparative effectiveness.

The group is also coming off a reorganization and rebranding, begun in 2011. Members were united as The Access Group, shedding old umbrella name Access Communications, and adding management-consulting division Promidian and training offering S3.

Gagliano readily points out the alliance's primary audience: “Today we feel the payer is of utmost importance.” The network has three dedicated payer agencies: Access Communications, Catalyst and Fusion.

They're joined by Promidian, whose drive is integrating the payer; government policy think tank GPS, which helps pharma with healthcare-reform implementation; mainline medical communications shop MedAccess in San Diego; and accredited med-ed agency Stratamed.

Among the network's 18 wins between the start of 2012 and May 2013, payer-focused programs and services dominated, including cost-and-coverage project work for AstraZeneca heartburn blockbuster Nexium, and other work for two biotech firms in the oncology space, Dendreon and Onyx Pharma.

Among other wins were the managed-markets AOR business for Boehringer Ingelheim blood thinner Pradaxa and work with BI across HEOR and pre-launch products, new work for AbbVie (Promidian/Catalyst), several new accounts from Merck, new work for Lundbeck and Takeda (both with Catalyst), Vertex cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco (Access Communications), and Salix antidiarrheal Fulyzaq (MedAccess).

Bristol-Myers Squibb oncology brands (payer access) and Bausch & Lomb Crystalens for cataract surgery (training workshops) remain important pieces of ongoing business. Lone losses came for pre-launch payer work on Forest IBS drug Linzess and injector training work for Allergan's Botox.

Current headcount stands at 85 and has stayed relatively flat. Gagliano highlights Jeff Lipman, hired from Campbell Alliance at the end of last year now to head up Promidian's Thousand Oaks, Calif., office.

As for 2013, Gagliano says it's shaping up to be “the best year in the firm's history in terms of where we are to goal.” And other than trying to monetize a recently formed in-house digital operation, Gagliano says his plan is to rally senior managers to keep doing what's made them successful. “The payer space is where I see opportunity moving forward.”
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