It is no surprise, with the recent landmark health care debate unfolding on Capitol Hill, that many pharmaceutical executives are looking for new and innovative ways to cut costs in their own industry. And one of these methods of innovation that many companies have been considering related to the use of mutually beneficial partnerships that could theoretically replace the current model of selling drugs on price. Some industry commontators believe that this could institute a new model that focuses more on quantifying and communicating total value. But what do these innovations mean for the health care industry and the public as a whole?
According to many experts in the pharmaceutical industry, such as pharmaceutical executives, pharmaceutical consultancy firms, and even some doctors, all feel that the current system is simply unsustainable, while some would even go as far as to say it verges on being unethical.. Under the traditional pharmaceutical sales model, many pharmaceutical companies are primarily concerned with only getting to the sale, instead of any consequences that may be the end result from the sale. Many patients feel that far too much emphasis is being placed on making the sale, and making the profit at any means necessary, while not having the patients’ overall wellbeing as their primary concern.
Many patients’ rights activists feel that pharmaceutical companies need to place greater emphasis on supporting what happens after a prescription is written, instead of being only concerned with making the initial sale. But many experts, as well as activists do not necessarily see this as a damaging blow for the pharmaceutical industry. While unproven, they feel that working closer with payers and providers to achieve better health care results will enable forward thinking companies to truly be able to differentiate themselves from their competition, thus potentially bringing in more public respect, and hopefully, higher profits.
Because of all the recent attention given to the health care industry over the last year, many in the pharmaceutical industry see this as a great opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to join with payers and providers to build better solutions together, than either group could do independently. But this is just a theory that is sometimes easier said than done. While pharmaceutical companies are working feverishly to become more focused on the patient’s needs as well as bring innovation to the payer-provider relationship, the botton line is, they still have to make money. Because of ever increasing competition from oversees, not to mention increasing price pressures and growing market access restrictions, this process is proving far more difficult than previously imagined.
While both sides are working hard to come up with the best solution, the common consensus is that starting a healthy dialogue is key. Through this healthy dialogue consumers as well as the pharmaceutical industry are expressing a newfound willingness to cooperate together, that just hasn’t been seen in recent years. Through this dialogue some pharmaceutical companies have already taken steps in this direction particularly in the way they are trying to improve patient care whilst attempting to control costs. Only time will tell whether this new found cooperation will net any real positive gains for patients,providers and pharamaceutical companies, but many in the industry see this as an excellent step in the right direction.
Nigel Smart is a pharmaceutical consultant and founder of the pharmaceutical consulting blog.