Innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the necessity of finding health solutions in an unprecedentedly short length of time. However, the first treatments, tests and vaccines will only offer partial solutions. Competing follow-on technologies will offer better or complementary health benefits. It is essential that health systems do not put all of their eggs in one basket.

A move towards paying multiple prices for medicines (depending on what they are used for) could address a commonly cited problem in drug development and increase patient access. Our latest consulting report investigates whether key stakeholders are onboard.

In place of OHE’s 2020 Annual Lecture, Adrian Towse will give a webinar-lecture on June 25th on payment models for a COVID-19 vaccine.

He will be discussing options for funding the development and manufacture of a vaccine, reflecting on their strengths and weaknesses, considering what may happen with no regional or global collaboration. Analysis will consider the work of Gavi and others to construct a global vaccine market that delivers for all citizens.

The need for social distancing in light of COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented increase in reliance on digital technologies by both health care providers and patients. While the trend towards digitalisation of health care allows for potential improvements in access, its impact on health outcomes and health inequalities must be carefully considered to ensure they contribute to social welfare and not detract from it.

Research by OHE and the University of Washington into how uncertainty-related novel elements of value could be included in an Augmented Cost-Effectiveness Analysis has been published in Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy (JMCP). The research discusses what has been or could be done to measure these elements and looks at empirical research to date.

A COVID-19 vaccine is needed now, but timelines (12-18 months) create large market risk. By the time a vaccine is ready, the crisis may have passed. A CGD Note explores three options: business as usual – which may lead to promotion of an inferior vaccine or fierce country competition for supply – and two models (cost- or value-based), with countries pre-committing to purchases meeting specified efficacy. The authors prefer a value-based model.

Adrian Towse presented evidence that transparency of process reduced corruption and improved competition. Evidence was, however, against price transparency for on-patent medicines. It will reduce access in low income countries. In generic markets, price transparency could improve efficiency, although it risks collusion by suppliers. There is therefore a case for buyers sharing, but not publishing, price data for off-patent medicines.

People living in Middle and Low Income Countries (MLICs) do not get access to innovative treatments and new treatments meeting MLIC requirements do not come to market. These issues should be addressed through a demand-side approach— better payer policy in MLICs, supported by international actors, to speed development and dissemination. An Innovation Uptake Institute (IUI) can serve as an honest broker between country payers and suppliers.

OHE Lunchtime Seminar with Alistair McGuire, 3rd February 2020. The seminar will present some preliminary thoughts on the promises offered by personalised medicine that it will allow efficient identification of different target groups and consequently more effective treatment.

New research by the Office of Health Economics (OHE) concludes the proposed International Price Index effectively outsources pharmaceutical policy decisions to countries that “give the government a central role” vs. the U.S.’ greater reliance on the private market.

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