The growing focus on the value of new drugs for patients and society has led to a more differentiated notion of innovation in the context of pharmaceutical products. The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the current debate about the definition and assessment of innovation and how innovation is considered in reimbursement and pricing decisions.
To compile the relevant literature, we followed a 2-step approach. First, we searched for peer-reviewed literature that deals with the definition of pharmaceutical innovation. Second, we reviewed health technology assessment (HTA) guidelines of 11 selected countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and The Netherlands) regarding aspects of innovation that are currently considered as relevant by the respective HTA bodies.
All countries in our sample use 1 of 2 types of reward mechanism for novel drugs that they consider provide some sort of benefit. Generally, the focus is on the therapeutic benefit of a drug, whereas, depending on the exact arrangement, other aspects can also be taken into account. A reduction in side effects and aspects of treatment convenience can be invoked in some of the countries. Mostly, however, they are not considered unless they are already captured in the clinical outcomes used to measure the therapeutic benefit.
Our review shows that although the health economic literature discusses a range of aspects on how innovation may generate value even without providing an immediate added therapeutic benefit (or on top of it), these are only selectively considered in the reviewed HTA guidelines. For most part, only the added therapeutic value is crucial when it comes to pricing and reimbursement decisions.
Sarah Hofmann Jennifer Branner Arpit Misra Hannah Lintener