13 October 2020

Pharma Pricing

'An International Review of Health Technology Assessment Approaches to Prescription Drugs and Their Ethical Principles' by Leah Z. Rand and Aaron S. Kesselheim in (2020) Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics comments 

 In many countries, health technology assessment (HTA) organizations determine the economic value of new drugs and make recommendations regarding appropriate pricing and coverage in national health systems. In the US, recent policy proposals aimed at reducing drug costs would link drug prices to six countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK. We reviewed these countries’ methods of HTA and guidance on price and coverage recommendations, analyzing methods and guidance documents for differences in (1) the methodologies HTA organizations use to conduct their evaluations and (2) considerations they use when making recommendations. We found important differences in the methods, interpretations of HTA findings, and condition-specific carve-outs that HTA organizations use to conduct evaluations and make recommendations. These variations have ethical implications because they influence the recommendations of HTA organizations, which affect access to the drug through national insurance and price negotiations with manufacturers. The differences in HTA approaches result from the distinct political, social, and cultural contexts of each organization and its value judgments. New cost-containment policies in the US should consider the ethical implications of the HTA reviews that they are considering relying on to negotiate drug prices and what values should be included in US pricing policy.