Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. Warren Buffet. How much is a new treatment worth to you?

Posted on Mar 31, 2015
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. Warren Buffet.  How much is a new treatment worth to you?

Increasingly in the press we see strong headlines about the ‘eye-watering’ cost of vital new medicines. One such example making the news globally has been the new Hepatitis C drug, Solvaldi, from Gilead that costs almost £35,000 ($84,000) for a 12-week course.

A computer generated image of the hepatitis C virus created by our head of animation Simon Reid.

The issue that underlies the price tag is value. The balance between a treatment’s price and the benefits offered and costs saved. In the Solvaldi example, one in three people infected with hepatitis C will develop liver cirrhosis and some will get cancer. A liver transplant costs more than £50,000. Source

Therefore, manufacturers need to demonstrate that their treatment is more than just a hefty price tag. The responsibility for demonstrating value lies with health economics outcomes and research (HEOR) teams. In the past HEOR was a shared service performing analyses on behalf of R&D, commercial teams and medical affairs. However, as payers and governments demand increasing evidence of value HEOR has become a core role throughout a product’s life cycle to help create a compelling value proposition.

However, there is no single definition of value – it means different things to different stakeholders (providers, payers, patients, manufacturers) and it varies by country.

This is particularly pertinent to cancer treatments. According to an IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report, patients living in countries such as England, Canada and Australia, which rely on a QALY formula to assess cost-effectiveness, have less access to new cancer drugs compared with countries that use an alternative system. This may be because, using a cost per QALY calculation, it is virtually impossible to capture the value of a small gain in life expectancy especially to the family of a cancer patient.

Given the complexities of the situation, it is clear that to successfully build a strong value proposition HEOR needs to be involved at every stage of a life. And this relies on collaboration between teams across a company. Because reimbursement not only enables patients better access to treatment, it also enables continued research and development and hopefully buys options in the future fight against illness be it cancer or hep C.

That was why we have created a video for AbbVie on the role of HEOR within the organisation and the vital role they play. Click here to see a short excerpt. The end product is a 10-minute training film that our client has called an “outstanding piece of video”.


Posted by: Fiona Day