Friday, April 24, 2015

A successful implementation of a bad idea

Since 2012 it hasn't been posible to know the price of new drugs funded by NHS. The government considers that they are confidential. This is a clear example of what exactly means transparency and the application of the rule of law. Meanwhile a new strategy has been put into place. Without public prices, the government has decided to set budget ceilings for several innovative drugs: pertuzumab, ivakaftor, telaprevir/simeprevir, abiraterona, pirfenidona y ruxolitinib. And the last one is new drugs for hepatitis C, defined as "therapeutic group" not as a specific molecule. Following this strategy there is a proposal to extend such a model of budget ceilings by ATC, therapeutic classification.
This is really a bad idea that is already being implemented. As you know sometimes there are good ideas badly implemented, and therefore criticized. But in this case, it is a bad idea with a scrupulous implementation. Some officials consider that if they set a budget ceiling, all decisions will be taken  to fit in with it. Clinical decisions follow a different path, not the mechanical and administrative way officials are used to.
The measure represents a tough hit to economic evaluation, because in the next future the government will not be any longer interested in it. Why? Their only concern is about the budget ceiling, the value doesn't matter. A missed opportunity for the development of priority setting under a rational scheme. Health economists should react to such a big mistake.
The saddest  issue is that nobody knows what will happen when the budget ceiling is surpassed. This will be the job for the next government, nobody cares about it right now. Democracy and rule of law are only words subject to interpretation.

PS. All the details about hepatitis C controversy at Boletín AES.

PS. Understanding the foundations of confidential drug pricing, in Forbes.

PS. Explained at Health Affairs:


International Best Practices For Negotiating 'Reimbursement Contracts' With Price Rebates From Pharmaceutical Companies
By: Morgan, Steven; Daw, Jamie; Thomson, Paige
HEALTH AFFAIRS  Volume: 32   Issue: 4   Pages: 771-777   Published: APR 2013
 Abstract

Reimbursement contracts, in which health insurers receive rebates from drug manufacturers instead of paying the transparent list price, are becoming increasingly common worldwide. Through interviews with policy makers in nine high-income countries, we describe the use of these contracts around the globe and identify related policy challenges and best practices. Of the nine countries surveyed, the majority routinely use confidential reimbursement contracts. This alternative to drug coverage at list prices offers benefits but is not without challenges. Payers face increased administrative costs, difficulties enforcing contracts, and reduced information about prices paid by others. Among the best practices identified, policy makers recommend establishing clear and consistent processes for negotiating contracts with relatively simple rebate structures and transparency to the public about the existence, purpose, and type of reimbursement contracts in place. Policy makers should also work to address undesirable price disparities within their countries and internationally, which may occur as a result of this new pricing paradigm.


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