Friday, September 27, 2019

How to Assess the Value of Cell and Gene Therapies: ICER's Founder

According to Steven Pearson, MD, founder and president of Boston-based Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), science is producing a growing number of gene and cell therapies to treat spinal muscular atrophy, leukemia, and other conditions, but payers and providers don’t have the information they need to determine what they should pay for these treatments.
Image result for USA cell and gene therapy market growth

These are either single or short-term therapies that can deliver clinical benefits for the rest of a patient’s life. That’s a departure from the historical norm where patients take a drug on a daily basis. If a health insurer is paying for these new gene and cell therapies just once, it’s going to be a steep price, Pearson tells Managed Healthcare Executive.

Tyrone's Commentary:

While research and development can indeed carry large costs and span multiple years, there is simply more to pricing drugs. Many modern-day assessments cite the value that a new drug brings to patients, along with savings incurred by the health system, as more relevant factors that drive drug price. 

I'm in the camp that drugmakers set prices based on whatever the market will bear, especially since demand for some therapeutic drugs is relatively inelastic — in other words, demand does not change much in response to price changes.

Pharmacoeconomic studies, such as those offered by ICER, may seek to quantify the value of a drug by calculating the estimated cost of an intervention per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) added by the drug. Cost savings resulting from a drug are often calculated through the cost of clinical services, hospitalizations, and other less effective medications that untreated patients would otherwise incur. 

If rare value and lack of alternatives drive high cost for specialty drugs, what could cause increases in generic drug prices?

The challenge payers are facing is they’re asked to pay a significant cost during the year the patient receives treatment, but there’s uncertainty around these treatments. The biggest question payers are wrestling with is this, he says: “How can we pay so much if [we’re unsure] the cure will last or what if it wears off in a few years?”

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