Pharma in Interesting Times

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Tue, Jan 08, 2019

“May you live in interesting times” is an intriguing Chinese expression that’s seemingly a blessing, but it’s really a curse. The pharmaceutical industry is facing a very tough year as an erratic U.S. president and a public that’s frustrated about drug prices provide motivation for bad solutions. It’s interesting that the Health and Human Services Secretary from the industry, Alex Azar, is now seeking to initiate price controls, albeit as a five year “experiment” rather than properly vetted legislation. Equally interesting is that the public frustration was mainly triggered by a combination of insurance funding concerns for a Hepatitis C cure and exotic price increases for off-patent drugs. This is not to say that the industry goes without blame. Pharma is better known for its lobbying power and erectile dysfunction ads than for its public communications. The pharma business model can’t easily be explained in 140 characters, but we certainly need to try a lot harder.


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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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2017 Fair Pricing Forum: The Message for Pharma CEOs

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Tue, Jul 18, 2017

This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of In Vivo.

Drug pricing continues to be a social and political dilemma that forms a divide between the drug industry on one side and medical community, governments and patients on the other side. Frustrations over the high cost of prescription drugs have resulted in a groundswell of government and private initiatives to increase transparency, analyze value through various frameworks or directly control pricing.


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