Minding the Gap

  • by: |
  • 10/18/2011

What is ‘Value’ and How Can it be Measured and Demonstrated in Therapeutic Innovations? That was the name of the lead panel at the September 29th Prix Galien Forum. One point all the speakers agreed on was that pharma and payers need to communicate early in the drug development process: If pharma is a day late, then payers are likely to be a dollar short.

To help bridge the pharma/payer gap, Pfizer and Humana have entered into a five-year partnership to use the insurer's medical claims database to study ways to improve the quality, outcomes and costs of health care for senior citizens, but the results also could help Pfizer make future drug development decisions.

The collaboration will focus initially on the pain management, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease in seniors. The companies are bringing together researchers and health care decision makers from both sides to identify a research agenda and will use data available through Humana's research affiliate, Competitive Health Analytics (CHA).

Over the course of the partnership, the research focus will expand into other conditions and populations, Pfizer Senior Director of U.S. Health Economics and Outcomes Research Jim Harnett said.

What is important about the new partnership, Harnett explained, is that "previously we had not had the decision-makers as part of identifying what the needs were for defining a research agenda, and … the specific design elements that need to be incorporated in our research."

Seeing the inefficiencies in the system could lead Pfizer to look for ways to address them through its drug pipeline.

"In terms of helping with development," Harnett said, "I think there's a number of ways in which this collaboration will further some of the objective, primarily around making sure we're bringing products that address unmet needs and that the evidence that we're bringing to the table also meets the needs of folks that have to make very important decisions with limited resources," such as providers and payers.

With real-world data, the companies can make sure "we have products that are truly valued" and in many cases figure out what sub-populations are going to benefit most and get the most value from certain products, he added.

Pfizer also could supplement CHA's data with "prospective pragmatic studies with primary data collection."

The agreement between Pfizer and Humana is part of a growing trend. Other drug manufacturers that have entered into similar arrangements with payers' research units include AstraZeneca, which has partnered with WellPoint's HealthCore and Sanofi, which is collaborating with Medco's United BioSource unit.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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