The WHO Report and Access to Cancer Medicines

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Tue, Feb 05, 2019

The World Health Organization’s recently published report, “Pricing of Cancer Medicines and its Impacts,” has elevated the issue to the agenda of the WHO’s executive board and is likely to ignite a lot of debate and some potential actions. While the report raises some very legitimate concerns related to access to anti-cancer drugs for patients, it also falls short of understanding the pharmaceutical industry environment. Rather than simply blaming the industry, it would be more productive to understand what’s standing in the way of collaboration to address patient needs and then jointly try to develop realistic programs to resolve it.


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Paying for Gene Therapy

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Wed, Jun 27, 2018

Recent advancements in gene and cell therapies have raised both excitement and anxiety in the global medical community. Luxterna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl) and CAR-T therapies Kymria (tisagenlecleucel) and Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) have provided potential cures for a significant share of patients with just a single treatment. However, that single treatment, with amazing patient value delivered over years or even decades, also requires a single payment under our current healthcare funding mechanisms. This is causing some additional complexities in an already complex and sensitive prescription drug pricing environment.


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European Drug Pricing Alliances: Force or Farce?

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Thu, Mar 01, 2018

Affordability of health care for an aging population, the emergence of innovative drugs with promising impact on patient lives and the continuing concerns over prescription drug costs have resulted in a deluge of political attention to drug pricing around the world. Immediately following the launch of Gilead’s Sovaldi, European governments declared an intent to more intensely collaborate on drug price negotiations. The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (later joined by Austria) created an alliance to jointly negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry. Today, the landscape has evolved further. What are the implications of pricing alliances for pharma companies? Will this evolve to one European price negotiation? Or will it disintegrate as countries fail to agree on common standards? Let’s analyze.


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The Benefits and Misconceptions of Indication-Based Pricing

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Fri, Jul 21, 2017

A recent Wall Street Journal article raised the challenge related to Novartis’ high-cost orphan drug Ilaris, which may have clinical potential in a broader use as a cardiovascular drug. For the cardiovascular use, the company would have to charge a significantly lower price to gain adoption in the market. It’s a fairly extreme example of a common situation where drugs with potential uses in different indications, different population sizes and different competitive price levels are posing a tough dilemma for the drug company. Indication-based pricing, allowing for a different price across diseases treated, would provide a solution to this problem and would, in some cases, allow for earlier and broader patient availability of new prescription drug treatments.


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Is the FDA Stepping Into the 21st Century?

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Wed, Mar 22, 2017


Until recently, the pharmaceutical industry has been severely limited in its ability to communicate with customers regarding the economic impact of new drug treatments. Under the 21st Century Cures Act, which was approved with broad bipartisan support and signed by then-President Barack Obama in December 2016, the pharmaceutical industry has a much broader mandate to discuss healthcare economic information with payers and formulary decision makerswith some fairly reasonable requirements.


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