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"Roche really does a lot for its employees"

Scientific work, international teams and a concrete benefit for patients - this is what Dr. Evelyn Stuwe likes about her work as HTA Manager at Roche. In the interview, she also reveals why there are very good career opportunities in her profession.

What are your responsibilities at Roche in the area of "Market Access"?

In Germany, every new drug that comes onto the market undergoes a so-called benefit assessment. The procedure is divided into two steps: in the first part, an independent institute called IQWIG evaluates the drug and the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) then awards a benefit assessment. In the second step, based on the G-BA's assessment, the price is negotiated with the umbrella organisation of the statutory health insurance funds. Once a drug has been approved, it will be available to patients in Germany. Pricing is free in the first year; from the second year onwards, the price that the company has negotiated with the health insurance funds applies.

As HTA Manager, I am responsible for compiling a dossier in which I use the medical data to demonstrate the additional benefit of the drug well and convincingly. I use data from clinical trials, for example. I am currently working on a lung cancer drug. It takes about a year and a half to prepare a dossier like this.

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e-fellows.net-Alumna Dr. Evelyn Stuwe (34) studied pharmacy in Heidelberg and received her doctorate in Pasadena (USA) at the California Institute of Technology. Since January 2016 she has been working for Roche as HTA (Health Technology Assessment) & Value Strategy Manager.

What is the exact procedure for preparing the dossier?

Systematic research is always the first step, during which I collect all available and relevant information. Then I build up the dossier. To do this, I work together with statisticians and epidemiologists from Roche, with market research, the regulatory department, the drug safety team and medical management. I need to have a good understanding of the disease to be able to present all relevant aspects of the drug. This includes, for example, the mode of action, the number of patients that can be treated with the drug, the results of the clinical trials and an assessment of the additional benefit.

What do you find particularly exciting about "Market Access"?

It is an ideal position for us broadly trained pharmacists. I am involved in scientific studies, but I also have a connection to the patient and to everyday medical life, because I have to consider many perspectives. I am also involved in international teams and I am a member of the global Market Access Team, with whom I exchange a lot of information. There is also the possibility to go abroad for a certain period of time. I find it exciting that I can still work scientifically, but not in academic research, but in relation to a real drug with concrete benefits for the patient. Last but not least, you have very good career opportunities as an HTA manager, because it is a very important position that receives a lot of attention in the company.

How does the cooperation with other departments at Roche work?

As an HTA Manager, you have many points of contact with the most diverse departments. I lead a cross-functional project team consisting of colleagues from Medical Management, Drug Safety, Statistics, Regulatory Affairs and Epidemiology, who support me in preparing the dossier. In cross-functional teams we also think about marketing and sales for the new drug. How do we train the sales force? What was presented at medical congresses? What are the competitors doing? As HTA Manager, I provide important information in these cases and learn a lot at the same time.

What do you like about your employer Roche?

Roche is a very employee-friendly company that really does a lot for its employees. Especially in terms of flexible working models and working hours, it's great here. For example, I can work a lot in the home office and I schedule my own work. They have great confidence in us. The induction training is also very well organised: There is a starting week in which each employee is specifically introduced to the work, gets to know the colleagues and visits the company headquarters in Basel, for example. During the first six months you can also stay in the guesthouse free of charge. Roche is very interested in the development of each individual employee - that's great because I know I have good opportunities here.

Which continuing education courses can you take advantage of?

There are so-called onboardings, where employees from different departments explain what happens in their department. This is really helpful, especially for people starting out on their careers. Roche also offers a wide range of further training courses, and the company also works with external providers: specialist training, language courses, soft-skill seminars and much more. In addition, we as employees can also make suggestions ourselves when we want to go to meetings or congresses. When I started at Roche, for example, I attended a block seminar in clinical epidemiology at the university for a week because I had no experience in this field.

What career opportunities does Roche offer?

As an employee of Market Access, I have very good development opportunities as I am well connected and can gain insight into many areas. In this respect I can develop in many different directions within the company.

In addition, there is always the possibility of going abroad for short or long periods of time, because we are a global company. Many managers at Roche have been abroad: you can tell by their attitude. They have looked beyond the horizon and are correspondingly open-minded.

Were there any surprises or funny events when you started your career?

In the starting week, all newcomers are together on the road: it's a bit like being in a school class. We were all on a first-name basis. So at a dinner together, I asked the colleague next to me: "So, what do you do? However, she wasn't a newcomer to the profession, but replied: "I've been with the company for 12 years now and run a nationwide field service. But the nice thing about Roche is that we could laugh together about the fact that I counted her among the career starters - because the atmosphere here is really very familiar.​​​​​​​