Reflections from BIO

03 July 2017
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June 17th panel on “Breakthroughs in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Are We at the Tipping Point?"

From June 19-22, 2017, thousands of the world’s leading biopharmaceuticals descended on San Diego at BIO.  BIO provides an opportunity to foster unique collaborations between biotech innovators with academia, government, NGOs, regulators, healthcare practitioners and patient advocacy groups. Rabin Martin was on the ground and below we bring you key insights from this year’s conference on issues of access and commercialization in emerging markets, innovative financing models to support vaccine development, patient perspectives within value-based pricing schemes and biopharma’s response to the surge in antimicrobial resistance.

Innovative new models are being deployed to improve health outcomes, especially in emerging markets.

While 80% of the world’s people live in emerging markets, only 33% of health expenditures occur in those markets. This disparity requires creative new models to bring innovation to these patients. New public-private partnerships are helping unite innovators, funders and regulators to address the needs of this patient populations. Examples include:

  • The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) a new public-private partnership to fund and coordinate the development of vaccines that are absent of commercial value. The model utilizes the competitive advantage of each stakeholder to quickly and efficiently bring vaccines to the people that need them most.
  • IFPMA’s Access Accelerated initiative, which connects more than 20 biopharma companies with multilaterals and NGOs – such as the World Bank and UICC global cancer control, to tackle emerging global health issues such as premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases.
  • BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) launched their Africa Access Initiative (AAI), uniting African governments with the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare practitioners to create innovative delivery and pricing models that expand access to medicines and improve cancer care in Africa.


Outcomes-based contracting is finally being taken seriously by both industry and payers as the issue of drug pricing continues to make headlines.

As the healthcare industry shifts towards justifying costs in terms of outcomes, there is increasing recognition by pharma that “a major storm is coming” and the industry can’t wait on policymakers to force changes. Instead, industry needs to think differently about how they are being paid for their innovations, and this includes tying payment to patient outcomes. While not all models will be proven successful, companies should try smaller pilot programs and see what can be scaled up for larger patient populations.

New technologies are being deployed to fight antimicrobial resistance.

With the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the world is in dire need of new technologies that both improve the potency of current drugs as well as identify new therapeutic avenues to combat multi-drug resistant pathogens. However, AMR is beyond the capacity of any nation or organization alone to combat. It is imperative to continue developing systems to incentivize and reward companies that develop new, successful antibiotics and make them available to those who need them.

The patient perspective needs to be more fully integrated into value assessment frameworks.

There was a lot of conversation around interpretation of cost effectiveness research that looks at price and quality of life (QALY). The price/QALY metric originated at the macro level to deal with populations but is ultimately used to make patient-level decisions. For this reason, it is seen by many as being insufficient and not capable of taking into account the full patient experience. For example, it does not account for considerations such as does a patient need to travel to get an infusion or is a patient with a fear of needles who is not able to self-administer injections. Evaluation bodies such as the  Institute for Clinical and Economic Review were cited by patient advocacy organizations, such as The Arthritis Foundation, National Psoriasis Foundation, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society, as important players in developing assessments on effectiveness and costs. However, extending data collection beyond clinical trials was widely seen as a critical step by pharma to creating a holistic view of value delivered to patients.

BIO may be over, but Rabin Martin is already preparing for the next big global health event: The United Nations General Assembly. UNGA week, held September 12-25, 2017 in New York City provides the opportunity for the private sector to engage with global health stakeholders on key issues, increasing visibility and promoting leadership. Stay tuned. We’ll be sharing info on key sessions and themes at this year’s conference in the coming weeks.

Interested in having a presence at UNGA? Contact us to learn more.

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