Brogan AP, Hogue SL, Vekaria RM, Reynolds I, Coukell A. Understanding payer perspectives on value in the use of pharmaceuticals in the United States. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2019 Dec;25(12):1319-27. doi: 10.18553/jmcp.2019.25.12.1319.

BACKGROUND: In recent years, value assessment frameworks have been introduced to inform discussions about how to define and assess value in the U.S. health care system. However, there is uncertainty as to how value assessment frameworks and other approaches to achieve value such as outcomes-based contracting are perceived and used in coverage decisions.

OBJECTIVE: To understand how U.S. payers determine value in the use of pharmaceuticals and how it differs from payers outside the United States.

METHODS: Qualitative in-depth phone interviews with 13 executive-level public and private U.S. managed care representatives and 6 health technology assessment advisors outside the United States were conducted from September to November 2017.

RESULTS: Despite various mechanisms used by U.S. payers to assess value, no consistent definitions of value were provided, and U.S. payers felt limited in what they can do to achieve value in pharmaceutical decision making. Value assessment frameworks are not formally considered in formulary and reimbursement decisions but are used as a reference as they become available by most or all U.S. health plans. U.S. payers expressed concerns, including limited control over pharmaceutical pricing and budget caps, and limited ability to use incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year thresholds. Outcomes-based contracting could have some utility in specific cases where the treatment has a particularly high cost and a clear outcomes measure, but payers indicated that outcomes-based contracts can be difficult to operationalize, and determination of savings was uncertain. Payers outside the United States—who are enabled by government health care bodies, policy tools, and analytical frameworks that have no counterpart in the United States—have a wider array of instruments at their disposal. U.S. payers were largely open to learning from other health care systems outside the United States, particularly the German health care system, where patient-relevant benefit compared with a predetermined treatment comparator is the primary determinant for price negotiations.

CONCLUSIONS: Although there is interest in including value assessment frameworks during the decision-making process in the United States, there are significant challenges to operationalizing them. The current environment in the United States restricts payers’ ability to make favorable contracts with manufacturers, and changes to the U.S. health system design are needed to facilitate this effort. Adoption of a value assessment framework in Medicare or Medicaid would accelerate adoption of these tools by private payers in the United States.

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