LONDON - It appears that Janssen-Cilag feels a lot better now about its pay-for-performance scheme around multiple myeloma drug bortezemib (Velcade) than it did when the program was introduced in 2007.
Most of the other recent flavors of risk-sharing programs around expensive cancer drugs emerged, like VRS did, as a result of a negative NICE appraisal. Merck-Serono offered the Cetuximab Cost-Share Program around Erbitux in metastatic colorectal cancer, which involved refunding primary care trusts the cost of any vials of the drug used for patients that fell into a pre-agreed ‘non-responder’ category at up to 6 weeks. Roche instigated the ‘Tarceva Access Program’ for its NSCLC drug erlotinib, offering a rebate, in the form of a credit note against any future Roche purchase, for the amount that the drug cost over and above the cost of the incumbent NSCLC treatment docetaxel (Sanofi-Aventis' Taxotere) for an average patient duration (with an upper limit on the total number of packs).
Critics say such programs are simply a way for industry to coerce NICE into a ‘yes’. Maybe. But there’s no denying that such schemes represent a logical way to improve patient access without breaking the bank. Indeed, the new UK drug pricing contract, the PPRS, formalizes a bunch of patient access schemes, including risk-sharing programs. And NICE, as we heard from CEO Andrew Dillon last week, would prefer such schemes to be proposed up front, before a drug is submitted for review, rather than as a last-resort of the drug fails the cost-test.
Add to this the problem of patchy uptake or availability of some of the existing handful of programs across the country, and the possibility of multiple risk-programs across a single drug for different indications, and it’s easy to see why BOPA's pushing for some sort of risk-sharing plan template....and why we may not, after all, see a flood of VRS-followers soon.