High cost of drugs is defintely an issue in the biopharmaceutical industry and always in the focus of the news, however there is acompany that has decided to face it in an unconventional way.
Some drugs even to treat heart disease can be fairly expensive especially since a new class of agents, known as PCSK9 inhibitors, pioneered by Amgen (Repatha) and Sanofi/Regeneron (Praluent) have been introduced with a list prices of about $14,600 per year. But are they worth it? A recent study called FOURIER answered this question with a “maybe.”
The study called FOURIER and sponsored by Amgen, involved 27,564 patients with heart disease, more than 80% of whom had already experienced a heart attack. The goal of FOURIER was to show that adding Repatha to heart patients’ drug regimens would reduce adverse CV events like heart attacks and strokes. The results on one side were impressive with
Repatha lowering LDL-c from 90 mg/dL to 30 mg/dL. However the reduction in fatal and non-fatal heart attacks was 27%.
At the end Repatha wasn’t as effective as hoped and Amgen answered back with an interseting strategy, probably never seen before in this kind of area: a “money-back guarantee” promise.
If a patient has a heart attack while on Repatha, the payer is eligible for a full rebate from Amgen for the drug’s cost.
But how does it work?
Amgen spokesperson Kristen Neese explained that contracts are negotiated payer by payer. The one requirement is that a patient must have been treated with Repatha for at least six months before being eligible for full reimbursement and
when asked for how long the money-back guarantee would be, Ms. Neese said that is negotiated with each payer.
Repatha pricing plan part of Amgen’s commitment to value-based contracting and as Ms. Neese believes, is unique in the industry.
The question now to be asked is will Amgen’s approach become a best practice? Provide some assurances of benefit for patients and value for payers for high price drugs could be ecome the norm?