Valuing Cures: Not If, But When? [Editor's Choice]
Healthcare is experiencing a renaissance of innovation in curative therapies. Diseases that once affected millions and caused countless fatalities are now only a course of treatment away from passive management or complete elimination from the human body. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors for chronic myeloid leukemia, then direct-acting agents for hepatitis C virus, and most recently, gene therapy for hemoglobinopathies to correct sickle cell disease, represent a sample of breakthroughs bound to change medicine moving forward. Yet, each of these cures has come at a tremendous price—not just to the manufacturers who develop them—but also to those who share such burden on the receiving end, most notably payers and patients.
These aforementioned cures and others like them have consistently entered the market at a price point likened to a fancy Italian supercar, and it is clear why that is so. Manufacturers are deploying burgeoning technology to innovate these cures, and they are giving people back their livelihood in a way that society should value a great deal. These trade-offs have attracted a multitude of health economic and outcomes researchers to get their feet wet with economic evaluation methods to examine whether there is good value for money in these cures. But are health economists contributing to the right public discourse?
William V. Padula