Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Pharmaceuticals' Category

Do specialty drugs provide good value?

Specialty drugs have greatly improved quality and duration of life for many patients.  Specialty drugs have been developed for a variety of illnesses, such as cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.  However, these drugs are typically very expensive.  Are they worth the cost? A paper by Chambers et al. (2014) find the following: …specialty drugs offered […]

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Pharmaceutical Cost Offsets

Does increasing use of prescription drugs decrease cost?  There is evidence on both sides of the aisle.  However, a recnet paper by Deb, Trevedi and Zimmer (2014) does find evidence of cost offsets using a sophisticated copula-based bivariated dynamic hurdle model.  This model, models drug and non-drugs spending and for each dimensions models the probability […]

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Longer trials or larger sample size?

Developing drugs is expensive. Some estimates have estimated that the cost of bringing a drug to market is $1 billion. In addition, payers are now reimbursing based on the perceived value of a treatment. That is, treatments that provide more health benefits receive higher reimbursements. In this world of value-based pricing (VBP), pharmaceutical companies have […]

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Pharmaceuticals in China

As China is now the second largest economy in the world, spending on medical services and medications is also growing. Pharmafile reports: China is positioned to become the second-largest pharmaceutical market, after the US, by next year, according to healthcare analysts IMS Health; meanwhile, by growing an estimated 15% to 18% annually, the organisation says […]

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A biologic by any other name would smell as sweet?

How important is a name?  In the case of biologics and biosimilars, billions of dollars depends on whether biosimilars can share the same name as branded biologics.  WonkBlog explains the biologic vs. biosimilar debate: Biologics, which treat serious diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis, are usually more expensive than conventional drugs, and they’re also harder to […]

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How did Medicare pay for chemotherapy pre-2006?

A working paper by Jacobson et al. (2014) not only provides the answer, but describes how reimbursement policy change over the past decade. Although Medicare did not offer a drug benefit for oral drugs (pills) until 2006, Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, has from inception covered physician-administered drugs such as IV chemotherapy, anti-nausea, […]

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What is Reference Pricing?

To reduce utilization of pharmaceutical products, many countries have opted to use reference pricing. Reference pricing is a system where patient coinsurance payments depend not only on the price of the drug but also the price of alternatives therapies.  As the name indicates, reference pricing sets patient coinsurance rates as the difference between the drug’s […]

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First biosimilar hits the market

Making a generic version of a single molecule drug is fairly straightforward.  Making a replica of a biologic treatment, however, is not.  Nevertheless, Congress signed into law the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCI Act) to create a fast-track approval process for biological products that are demonstrated to be highly similar an FDA-approved biological product.  These products […]

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How the FDA evaluates Cancer Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews and approves all drugs. But what criteria does the FDA use to evaluate new drugs? Namely that they are effective (i.e., improve health outcomes) and safe (i.e., have limited adverse health events). In a 2007 guidance document from the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) and […]

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The Efficiency Frontier in Health Economics

Which treatments are better than others? Ideally, medicines that provide large health benefits and cost little will be preferred to those that offer little health benefits and/or cost a lot. In health economics, one way to systematically evaluate different treatments is the efficiency frontier. The efficiency frontier methodology is an extension of the standard approach […]

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