ELITE 2018 Transformational Leader Michael J. Valenta of Merck & Co.

Michael J. Valenta

Executive Director, Oncology Organized Customer Marketing Access and Reimbursement

Merck & Co., Inc.

Focusing on Oncology Access

Vision, foresight, passion, and innovation. With these core qualities, Michael Valenta built an oncology headquartered- and field-based team that is strong and well-prepared to tackle the dynamic and ever-evolving market access and reimbursement landscape.

In his tenure as Executive Director at Merck, Michael recognized the need to evolve past a traditional payer marketing team structure to establish a single oncology division with dedicated focus on payers, group purchasing organizations, pathways, integrated delivery networks, and community-based practices. To date, this division—Organized Customer Access and Reimbursement (OCAR)—has successfully navigated through nine indication approvals for Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in the market access space since the initial FDA approval in 2014.

Over the course of three years, the team has grown exponentially, as has Merck’s commitment to meeting the needs of payers, providers, and patients as a trusted partner in oncology. Notwithstanding the success Michael has achieved over the past few years, he truly keeps patient access at the forefront of his decisions and celebrates the successes of the Merck Access Program with each patient for which his team is able to provide access.

As a first-ever accomplishment at Merck, Michael succeeded in establishing the need for a Diagnostic Specialists team dedicated to the oncology portfolio. He understands the importance of listening to his team members and empowering them to have valuable conversations with their customers.

As his team expanded rapidly, Michael collaborated with his partner agency, Precision For Value, to commission a corporate operational review of OCAR to identify communication gaps, pain points, and areas of success. This initiative involved interviews with team members, across various functions (Brand, Promotions, Field, etc.), to capture information, communication, and decision flows. Michael then held several working sessions with his OCAR team to identify areas of improvement, prioritize solutions, and take action to affect change within the department.

With Michael’s leadership, the OCAR team continues to achieve Merck’s higher vision of securing access to innovative medicines for patients.


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