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Market access teams should have more influence in clinical trial design, say Cutting Edge Information

By Natalie Morrison , 28-Aug-2012
Last updated on 28-Aug-2012 at 12:41 GMT

Health economics and outcomes research teams must have a greater influence over clinical trial design if pharma firms are to achieve reimbursement goals, according to Cutting Edge Information.

In a new study, analysts said brand profitability has dipped drastically in recent years because sponsors have tightened their belts in the harsher economic environment, resulting in more difficult and unpredictable market access.

The researchers say implementing health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) teams – which coordinate with the clinical group whilst the compound is in development – has been a popular choice when tackling the issue, as it provides the data to justify the price of a new product.

However, according to the study – which collected information from firms including Abbot, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer – involving the endpoint teams early-on in trial design could mean even greater chances of seeing a healthy reimbursement.

The report, titled ‘Aligning Clinical and Commercial to Meet Payer Demands and Win Reimbursement’, said:  “Health economics teams’ primary responsibility is to develop information for payers, but companies that only analyse the completed clinical trial results to determine a product’s economic benefit face tough questions from payers.

“If the clinical trial does not collect the information needed to answer the payers questions, it might take more than additional analysis of existing data to gain payer support.”

By looking at information collected from a range of firms – from Big Pharma to small biotechs – the analysts found the most successful health economics groups have a say during trials.

Cutting Edge said that by working together, the business focussed commercial teams and the more academic medical staff who run clinical trials for the firms, could balance each other out, ensuring succinct, useful data.

 “The largest challenge is that teams located under medical affairs are more academic in nature, researching data for the data’s sake,” the analysts said. “Since the HEOR messages drive the overall market access strategy, not having commercially orientated messages can stunt the brand’s revenue stream.”

And though the authors admit the view could be seen as undermining the integrity of the medical team, they said it is in everyone’s interests to get the drug to market.

A director of health economics from an unnamed US biotech, which was involved in the study, added: “It doesn’t really matter where you sit because the whole discipline – like everything in the pharma world – is to sell drugs.”

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