The drug and medical-device industries have not been immune from the healthcare industry's transition from volume to value.
And when leaders of some of the sector's largest companies gather next week in San Francisco for the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization conference, the themes of reimbursement pressure, comparative effectiveness and new technologies for keeping people healthy will be front and center.
The same drivers that are reshaping healthcare delivery for providers are also creating a sea change for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, which increasingly must demonstrate how their products fit into a system with a laser focus on price.
A number of BIO panels, including two of the six “super sessions,” will focus on payment issues with input from pharma and biotech companies as well as health systems and insurers. As drug prices continue to rise, drugmakers are under pressure to defend what they charge and their role in taking costs out of the healthcare system.
“I think most people would say the drug companies are failing on delivering value message,” said Al Jackson, who leads Spectrum Science Public Affairs and is moderating a panel on communicating about medical innovation. Drugs represent only about 15% of healthcare spending, he added, “yet they seem to be taking 90% of the grief.”
At the same time, pharma companies are grappling with how to speed up the drug development process and gather enough comparative effectiveness research to make a strong case for reimbursement. The role of big data in finding patients for clinical trials as well as tracking how drugs perform in the real world also is getting top billing at the industry confab.
Technological tools may help bridge the gap. For the first time, the annual Digital Health Summer Summit will run concurrently with BIO and feature sessions that range from wearables to interoperability to care coordination.
“The theme this year is igniting the tipping point,” said Jill Gilbert, producer of the conference. “It's the merging of many different parts of healthcare and making it effective and fluid.”