Effective stats are new hurdle for U.S. drugmakers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

WellPoint Inc.’s announcement of comparative-effectiveness research guidelines last week marks a new era for U.S. drugmakers.

The Indianapolis-based health insurer said it will use studies that compare the effectiveness of one drug against another as a complement to typical clinical-trial research that compares a drug against a placebo sugar pill.

Congress has also approved $4.1 billion in the past 15 months to fund comparative-effectiveness studies and a new agency that specializes in them. Now that private insurers like WellPoint are joining in, the United States could see a wave of head-to-head comparisons that have historically been rare in pharmaceuticals.

The goal of both the public and private initiatives is better health care at lower cost. WellPoint will use comparative-effectiveness research to help determine what percentage of the cost of a new drug it will pay for.

“Good comparative-effectiveness research study, along with clinical trial information and other peer-reviewed studies published in medical journals, can provide us the tools we need to help improve health outcomes and reduce costs for members of our affiliated health plans," Brian Sweet, WellPoint’s chief pharmacy officer, said in a statement.

Comparative-effectiveness research was a controversial topic during last year’s health reform debate, as many feared government and private health plans would use the information to intrude in the doctor-patient relationship.

But for pharmaceutical companies, it’s just the new reality, said Linda Heitzman, a life sciences consultant at Deloitte Consulting in Indianapolis.

“Just proving your product is better than nothing is not enough. You have to be able to demonstrate that your product is better than other products on the market,” she said, noting that the U.S. market is actually catching up to demands for comparative-effectiveness research already coming from government health plans in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Heitzman said comparative-effectiveness research is both a challenge and an opportunity for drugmakers.

“Where comparative effectiveness hurts pharma companies is in broad-based treatments [such us cholesterol-fighters or blood pressure medicines]. Trying to have one more product in that market is a non-starter,” she said. “Companies are going to have to take a much riskier strategy.”

But drug companies can and are using blood and genetic testing to identify small groups of patients for which their drug is a big breakthrough in treatment. Proof of high effectiveness in a small group can get a drug market approval from regulators and favorable pricing from insurers like WellPoint.

Then, Heitzman said, drugmakers can build from there to get their drugs approved for more and more patients.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?