Best Practices in Structuring & Staffing Pharma Government Affairs’ Groups


The Government Affairs and Public Policy functions play an important role in the Pharmaceutical industry. Both functions are involved in critical areas such as legislative affairs, reimbursement, and regulatory, making it essential for organizations to have not only appropriate staffing and budget levels for the group, but also an alignment of services and responsibilities to enable the groups to function effectively and efficiently.

Despite the critical nature and increased importance placed on these groups, organizations are still struggling to understand how to properly structure and staff the functions in order to increase the effectiveness of their operations. From our recent research, we identified key Government Affairs structures, resources, services and priorities across the biopharmaceutical industry. Some key findings that emerged included:

  • Services Offered: Differentiated services are the norm for Government Affairs. Almost ¾ of participants said they vary the level of services – staffing, time, responsiveness – across internal customers. This practice reflects the significant impact that Government Affairs can have on important business issues such as reimbursement and regulatory.
  • Structure: Government Affairs groups seek to balance centralized focus with decentralized local needs. Nearly ½ of benchmark partners said they employ Regional models and Hub-and-Spoke models in designing their structural approach to serving diverse geographies. A balanced approach- such as the Hub-and-Spoke model- can be advantageous in dealing with reduced staff and growing emerging markets.
  • Outsourcing: Outsourcing of Government Affairs is a viable staffing strategy in the U.S. marketplace but is less utilized outside U.S. markets. The maximum outsourced Government Affairs staff in the U.S. reached 51% at one benchmark company. Still others don’t outsource. The average mix is about 70% in-sourced and 30% outsourced in the U.S. Expanded outsourcing strategies are another approach to managing with reduced staffing resources.

Being a highly regulated industry, the pharmaceutical industry places a heavy reliance on its Government Affairs and Public Policy functions. Understanding how to create and maintain an effective Government Affairs group is essential to ensure success within the organization as a whole.

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