#PhRMA12 Panel 2 Recap: Today's Decisions Determine What Medicines Will Be in 2030

#PhRMA12 Panel 2 Recap: Today's Decisions Determine What Medicines Will Be in 2030

04.12.12 | By Kate Connors

Today's second panel discussed how the current environment in the U.S. - both from an economic standpoint and a policy standpoint - is affecting the healthcare ecosystem,

Former U.S. Representative Nancy Johnson (from my home state of Connecticut) gave an interesting, succinct overview of the question we all ask, whether from the private sector or the public sector: "How do you deliver affordability in healthcare and at the same time continue quality improvement processes?

One task for biopharmaceutical companies, according to James Capretta, Fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is to "make it clear to the public that innovation and capital investment and development of these kinds of products doesn't just happen."

Chris Jennings, President of Jennings Policy Strategies, Inc., pointed out that public perception of medicines has suffered in the past because of the inconsistent coverage of various healthcare interventions, like surgery and hospitalization, which tend to enjoy much lower co-pays as a percentage of their costs.

So, for patients who pay out-of-pocket for their medicines, or pay high co-pays for their medicines, "they knew how much their drugs cost. They didn't know about their other costs, which had much lower co-pays as a percentage of the care. The low price point compared to other interventions wasn't understood."

Rep. Johnson spoke about how empowering patients can help with healthcare affordability in the long-term: "We have really got to be serious about integrating care from the bottom up. You can only succeed at targeting affordable care if you get patients involved."

Jennings, echoing some of the sentiments from the first panel today, emphasized that this is another opportunity to highlight adherence, perhaps in the guise of policy: "Management of chronically ill populations is an area about which everyone talks. They'll talk about the importance of better managing that population because they say that the 5 percent of sickest patients account for 50 percent of expenditures. In the discussion about managing costs well, we have broad agreement among many stakeholders that this is an area that has potential, and one way to tackle it is to shift toward adherence policies."

Rep. Johnson also mentioned the role that technology can play in improving adherence and, even generally, better care. She mentioned the use of apps to help patients get information, communicate with their providers, and take their medicines in a better way. "It's going to take a dialogue about the fundamental structure of care."

Capretta said that despite the challenges the industry faces, there's at least a sense that someday, "there's going to be a game-changing medical breakthrough if we have a climate that allows it to happen."

He explained: "We don't know what medicines will look like in 2030, but I do believe that it won't look like what we'd describe today. But we have to allow it to happen."

Moderator Sheila Burke agreed, looking back at her career as a nurse and commenting on how biopharmaceutical technology has come so dramatically far in recent years.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateAtPhRMA.

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