Reforming the Payment System for Medical Oncology

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.
JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association (Impact Factor: 30.39). 07/2013; 310(3):257-258. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2013.8127
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: The pricing mechanism of orphan drugs appears arbitrary and has been referred to as a "black box". Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate how drug- and disease-specific variables relate to orphan drug prices. Additionally, we aim to explore if certain country-specific pricing and reimbursement policies affect the price level of orphan drugs. Annual treatment costs per indication per patient were calculated for 59 orphan drugs with a publicly available price in Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. A multiple linear regression model was built with 14 drug- and disease-specific variables. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to explore whether there is a correlation between annual treatment costs of orphan drugs across countries with different pricing and reimbursement policies. Repurposed orphan drugs, orally administered orphan drugs or orphan drugs for which an alternative treatment is available are associated with lower annual treatment costs. Orphan drugs with multiple orphan indications, for chronic treatments or for which an improvement in overall survival or quality-of-life has been demonstrated, are associated with higher annual treatment costs. No association was found between annual treatments cost of orphan drugs across countries and the different pricing and reimbursement systems. This study has shown that prices of orphan drugs are influenced by factors such as the availability of an alternative drug treatment, repurposing, etc. Current debate about the affordability of orphan drugs highlights the need for more transparency in orphan drug price setting.
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