Case Study: HEOR Support – Health Advertising Agency
Our team at VSC was recently engaged by a health advertising agency that works with pharmaceutical companies. We were tasked with refining the health communication strategy for a newly approved drug that holds great promise for patients with an aggressive form of cancer. The specific project involved reviewing the clinical trial and cost evidence, extracting the relevant statistics and supporting documentation, and packaging that information (called Health Care Economic Information, or HCEI) in a manner that best communicated the therapeutic value of the drug in economic terms. Our work would be used by insurance companies to decide whether or not to reimburse enrollees who are prescribed the drug. Communication of HCEI is critically important, as the potential losses to a manufacturer of non-reimbursement are considerable. Drugs are generally expensive to develop, but some, such as the class of drugs whose HCEI we evaluated, are phenomenally so (on average,
more than half a billion dollars.)
Where did we add value? We started by providing a primer on healthcare economics and outcomes research to the copywriters with whom we would collaborate, highlighting best practices in generating and presenting evidence on pharmaceuticals, where the goal was to establish some quality benchmarks. We then reconciled the research with a draft HCEI tool, making changes to the tool so that it properly conveyed the drug’s gross benefits (i.e. survival), its comparison to alternatives, its therapeutic value in standardized (i.e. life-adjusted) terms, and potential cost savings to payors. Our numerous suggestions for improving the communication tool will likely yield a greater chance of successful formulary inclusion, and our critical appraisal of the design and statistical methodologies–which were communicated to the manufacturer’s in-house statistical team–should result in a more value-
focused approach to evaluating the company’s next drug.