Following the Money: Outcomes Research Can Improve Health When Used Wisely

Sept. 4, 2012 – According to a recent article posted on , the pharmaceuticals industry is spending more on outcomes research. “Enabled by better research methods and driven by payer demands, better outcomes research can drive better clinical decision-making and, best of all, better patient care,” said Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp.

“Better health will advance quickly if this new spending shifts the existing reimbursement paradigm away from generalized study data and toward more personalized medicine and reimbursement,” he noted, “but that remains to be seen.”

The Pharmalot article, which quotes metrics from a Cutting Edge Information survey report, entitled “Health Economics and Outcomes Research: Aligning Clinical and Commercial to Meet Payer Demands and Win Reimbursement,” states that at the 50 largest drug makers, spending levels on outcomes research “average $7.5 million, with budgets growing nearly across the board.”

“You”ve certainly heard, ‘location, location, location,’ when it comes to real estate,” said Center for Medicine in the Public Interest President Peter Pitts. “If you follow Microsoft you”ve heard, ‘developers, developers, developers.’ And now, if you”re a believer in patient-centric reimbursement policies, there”s a new triad: ‘outcomes, outcomes, outcomes.’”

Overall, outcomes research spending for the 30 drug and device makers in different countries surveyed by Cutting Edge rose 42 percent from 2011, but those who stated they boosted spending this year actually reported a 66-percent spending increase in this area. Interestingly, small drug companies reported the largest spending increase: 79 percent.

Although receiving FDA approval for a drug is a key hurdle in bringing a drug to market, gaining reimbursement for that drug is becoming an obstacle of almost equal proportions, because without reimbursement, many patients will not have access to medicines that can help them.

“Reimbursement based on real-world patient outcomes is a giant step toward recognizing the importance of personalized medicine and the folly of basing reimbursement decisions on large-scale general population studies,” Pitts said. “Imagine reimbursement programs that actually help advance the four rights of 21st century personalized medicine – the right medicine for the right patient in the right dose and at the right time.”

Pitts also remarked that focusing on outcomes not only means that pharma companies “will have to put their money where their mouth is – but that payers will have to put patients first. Now that’s healthcare reform.”