Today’s guest post comes to us from Lilly's Director, Global Public Policy, Franz Pichler.
At Lilly, we believe in making life better for people and in the context of Europe this means not only discovering new medicines, but also in working in partnership with governments, patients and providers to help improve health care systems and processes across the continent. Europe has some of the best healthcare available in the world and the average life expectancy of a European has increased dramatically over the last 60 years. However, there is a ten year gap in how long you can expect to live depending on which European country you live in. There are many reasons why this is the case, but one reason is the difference in what medicines are accessible to patients.
Richard Ascroft, Lilly's Senior Director for Corporate Affairs and Market Access for Australia, Canada, and Europe, and I have recently written an article that discusses an initiative of the European Commission that seeks to help address some of the differences leading to inequalities in patient access. While every Member State is responsible for its own healthcare, including which medicines are available to patients, the EU Commission has identified some activities where improved cooperation could yield benefits. In particular, an increasing number of countries are using Health Technology Assessment (HTA) to provide evidence-based information to help guide Member States in their decision-making about which new medicines should be available to their patients. The Commission has observed that much of the evidence that HTA’s assess is the same leading to a high level of duplication of effort and as HTA is a complex activity, also to unnecessary delays to patient access in many countries. Furthermore, because these national or regional HTAs use very different methods their results are often different even when the evidence being assessed is identical. Our article focuses on a Commission funded pilot process called ‘rapid Relative Effectiveness Assessment’ that seeks to identify and assess the common pieces of clinical information needed by HTAs for their evaluations. We believe that the concept of the pilots is sensible and that in theory it should be able to achieve efficiencies and to help reduce inequalities in medicines availability in Europe. However, we argue that the current way in which the pilots are being run is actually adding and not reducing duplication and is not effectively being taken up by local HTAs. We provide some constructive suggestions that we hope may help provide guidance as to how these pilots could be improved.
We wrote the article because we believe that it is very important for people in Europe to be informed about HTA and how it is being used to grant or deny medicines access in their countries. You can read our article, "The Case for HTA Cooperation," by clicking here or downloading the PDF below.
When used appropriately, HTA can help improve healthcare by identifying medicines, devices and systems that optimise health gains but sadly HTA can also be misused. The main way this occurs is when there is a very narrow focus on only one small piece of the system such the impact of a new medicine upon the pharmaceutical budget without taking into account broader impacts such as reducing costs elsewhere in a system through the use of the new medicine, for example it may prevent expensive hospitalisation or help the patient or their caregivers get back to work. HTA is an important topic because it affects you, maybe not today, but today’s decisions may well determine treatment for you or a loved one tomorrow. Learn more about HTA from our Medicine Evaluation Educational Training, the European Commission for Health, and in this video from EUnetHTA. Additionally, check back soon on LillyPad EU for more information— we will continue to post articles on this important topic on our blog.