Communications, Public Relations and Medical Value
What is Medical Value?
Ten Years Ago
It used to be that when you publicized your organization’s pipeline candidate or marketed medicine, you described the therapy’s medical value by discussing the safety, efficacy and the medical (and/or quality of life) need for your therapy.
For hospitals and physicians, medical value has been measured by the amount of care provided to patients with reimbursement based on volume of services. Cost containment measures around services and line items — like drugs – have become more severe as healthcare costs have outgrown the ability of governments and payors to meet them.
Your organization may be among the voices protesting that this line-item approach is often counterproductive, actually raising the overall costs to the system in the long run.
Five Years Ago:
With the shifting focus to managing chronic conditions, medical value evolved to include a more comprehensive understanding of patient value. Now, in addition to pointing out safety, efficacy and medical need, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and healthcare providers began creating and promoting online patient communities, health education programs and a variety of other innovative outreach vehicles to help improve patient compliance (taking prescriptions correctly and consistently) and lifestyle choices.
The definition of medical value is changing, again, with many calling for adoption of Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter’s proposal to base medical value on patient results or the “health outcome per dollar of cost expended” (NEJM 12/23/10), a proposition that has understandable appeal to governments and regulators. For another take on Porter’s recommendation, go to this guest post by Nathan Favini at KevinMD.com.
What does the new definition of medical value mean for you and your company? A lot. Research presented last November at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) showed that NICE recommendations for new drugs dropped from one in three in 2007, to one in 10 in 2009. I will speculate that many of these rejections were based on NICE’s opinion that the rejected drugs’ benefits were viewed as not providing enough medical value to offset the additional cost to the healthcare system of paying for them.
What are companies – and their communications and PR groups – doing differently to demonstrate the medical value of their therapies by today’s standards? Pharmaceutical Executive magazine (Feb 2012) gave a good example in their tribute to their Brand of the Year Award winner, Abbott’s Humira (adalimumab), a blockbuster monoclonal antibody for inflammatory conditions.
*First, Abbott conducted long-range efficacy studies to provide evidence to make the case for clinical differentiation and value-based reimbursement, by showing how Humira reduces inflammation, stops disease progression and yields broader health system savings through improved quality of life.
*Second, Abbott worked closely with regulators to identify in advance what evidence was needed to drive positive decisions as they extended Humira’s franchise into new indications.
*Third, Abbott engaged the patient community, translating health economics, clinical benefit and safety issues into simple messaging that focused on inflammatory disease as a disability that can be successfully managed. Key to the company’s patient engagement: Abbott understood that quality of life is the lead concern for these patients.
*These three paragraphs are an almost verbatim transcript from Pharmaceutical Executive. If you don’t already subscribe, it should be up on their website soon.
Do you see the definition of medical value continuing to evolve? What do you think these changes will mean for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries? For governments and patients?
Can you share more examples of a brand strategy to demonstrate medical value?
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