Growing pressure to address high drug costs has driven more biopharmaceutical firms to seek partnerships with former foes.
Biopharmaceutical companies, in the business of making money, have begun involving frugal payers, physicians and patient advocacy groups in the early stages of drug development.
The goal is to prove real-world drug benefits by linking the cost of care with patient health outcomes rather than the volume of services rendered.
A recent report conducted by PriceWaterhouse Coopers' Health Research Institute found partnerships benefit both those who looking to buy medications at a lower cost as well as the companies looking to get the best return on their investment to develop new breakthroughs.
Ceci Connolly, managing director of PwC's Health Research Institute, said the knowledge gained by the partnerships helps design clinical studies, as firms are geared toward developing more precise treatments.
“Payers and manufacturers manufacture are both players in a competitive market that is looking toward the same end goals that are better outcome for patients and access to affordable, high-quality care for patients,” said Randy Burkholder, vice president of policy and research at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American, the leading organization that represents the pharmaceutical industry.
For insurers and health systems, collaborating with biopharmaceutical firms allows them to provide their perspective by giving drugmakers access to the patient data they use when making decisions on coverage.
“All of these collaborations have one thing in common: they aim to use newly available consumer health data to uncover the truth about drug value and its relationship to health outcomes,” report authors wrote. “The need to collaborate also stems from a growing concern that drug development doesn't adequately address patient needs and medication adherence outside of the clinic.”
According to the report, a survey of pharmaceutical executives found 61% attributed a high level of importance to real-world data obtained from collaborations with insurers, providers, and patient groups. As Connolly pointed out, such relationships can help speed the clinical trials by providing drug makers with quicker access to human subjects, the finding of which can be a lengthy process that can drive up research and development costs.
Such was the case with the development of two drugs for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Orkambi for treatment of the pulmonary condition that affects an estimated 30,000 patient in the U.S.
The development of that drug, along with its predecessor Kalydeco, was the result of a long-term partnership between the maker of the drug, Cambridge, Mass.-based Vertex Pharmaceutical and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The patient advocacy group even provided $120 million to Vertex to support their research.
“New partnerships between biopharmaceutical firms and others offer the strongest prospects that those drugs being developed will be effective,” Connolly said.