An HSJ and Novartis roundtable discussed that “best value biologics” actually means successfully creating value across the whole health and social care system – not merely assessing the comparative cost of drugs
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When NHS England and NHS Improvement urge a use of “best value biological medicines”, the natural first step might seem to be to look at price tags. After all, biologics are now six of the top 10 highest spend medications used in English hospitals.
As different versions come on the market – including biosimilars, based on original drugs but costing much less – the potential for savings seems to present itself.
Yet at a HSJ roundtable event, fully funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, a panel of experts agreed value is a complex equation. Clinicians, commissioners and patients all suggested “best value biologics” actually means successfully creating value across the whole health and social care system – not merely assessing the comparative cost of drugs.
They argued that value creation required an understanding of long term outcomes; the impact of earlier access to innovative medications; and a holistic understanding of what is important to a patient.
The overall conclusion: there are savings to be made in the use of biologics. But realising them may not be as straightforward as it first seems. It will involve considering what value means for an individual patient or group of patients – and understanding that can’t be solely measured by a price tag.
Ailsa Bosworth, chief executive and founder, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
Dr Paul Cornes, consultant oncologist, Comparative Outcomes Group
Dr Fraser Cummings, consultant gastroenterologist, University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust
Kalveer Flora, specialist pharmacist rheumatology and biosimilars, London North West Healthcare Trust
Steve How, programme director, Wilmington Healthcare (roundtable chair)
Dr Joanne Kitchen, consultant rheumatologist, Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust
Helen McAteer, chief executive, Psoriasis Association
Anusha Patel, regional homecare lead and high cost medicines pharmacist, East Midlands
Professor Justin Stebbing, professor of cancer medicine and oncology, Imperial College and consultant oncologist, Imperial College Healthcare Trust