In what areas will OHE be concentrating its analytical efforts over the next several years?
Towse: We will continue to build on our past work as we open new areas of inquiry. The analysis of differential pricing across products
and markets is an ongoing initiative, which complements efforts to expand the debate on the merits of personalized medicine.
Pricing reform is a critical priority for the industry here in Europe, where companies confront a "race to the bottom" as
more affluent countries seek to emulate the lower prices in poorer states through cross-border referencing. Should Germany
expect to pay the same price for drugs as Romania, and is there a better rationale to oppose that beyond bland assertions
that someone has to pay the cost of R&D?
Re-engineering the drug development process is equally important. Last month, we released a study on the cost to develop a
new medicine, which adds to the academic discussion by putting practical emphasis on how facilitating market entry and take-up
can influence the decision to invest in innovation. The OHE is also the co-recipient of a UK Medical Research Council grant
to explore ways to reduce the time lag in translating research into medical practice, another project that reflects our position
that much more needs to be done in relating R&D incentives to what happens after authorization. Next, we are closely following
the evolution of HTA practice, leveraging our groundbreaking work on the EQ-5D survey set to improve the sensitivity of health
outcomes measures, including those used to inform decisions on reimbursement status. This work underscores our strong commitment
to the field of patient reported outcomes, where we are trying to nudge the decision criteria away from simply counting the
volume of scrip to broader measures around quality of life.
Finally, we are expanding our investigations on whether competition in health services raises the bar on system performance,
improving outcomes. The emphasis to date has been on applying this in the NHS, but now there is interest in the implications
for the emerging countries, which are receptive to new approaches as they restructure their health systems to cope with the
demands of a growing middle class.
Can the OHE model in the United Kingdom be replicated elsewhere?
Towse: It can, and it should. The National Pharmaceutical Council [NPC] in the United States is a precedent, with its work in recent
years to study approaches to HTA and comparative cost-effectiveness. At a time when critics of the industry have put deep
roots in major academic institutions, advocacy-based think tanks, and government advisory panels, it is surprising how little
resources the industry devotes to shaping the political and reputational debate through strong, independent policy research.
William Looney is Pharm Exec's Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org