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The Value of Sovaldi: Societal Cost Issues of New Interventions on Hepatitis C

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In December 2013, the FDA approved a new drug, sofosbuvir, for the treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C. The drug, commonly known as Sovaldi, was developed by Gilead Sciences, a U.S. biotechnology company. The initial price tag of a 12-week treatment of Sovaldi was reported as approximately $84,000, or nearly $1,000 per pill. This resulted in considerable media attention and an ensuing pricing controversy. Editorials and op-eds sprung up around the country debating Sovaldi’s price tag and the broader debate over fair drug pricing. Some politicians expressed outrage over the cost of new drugs, while others argued for free market pricing and rewards for the considerable R&D costs that biopharmaceutical companies incur when bringing a new drug to market. The often niche drug pricing debate had officially spilled over into the mainstream conversation. Payers, policymakers, pharma, patients, and providers all voiced strong— and sometimes contrasting— opinions.

At CHI, we aim to help these stakeholders increase their knowledge and understanding of healthcare value, which we view as a function of quality, access, and cost. Thus, we decided to further explore the value of Sovaldi and how the costs and benefits of the drug relate to the broader discussion of the treatment of Hepatitis C. Our goal is to offer a more informed and analytical approach to the discussion of the value of Sovaldi. One question that immediately arose was “How does the price of Sovaldi compare to the long term costs of the treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C?” Our goal was to analyze the complex interrelationships and broader macroeconomic principles relating to the costs and benefits of a drug, as well as the long term costs of treating Chronic Hepatitis C.  The White Paper, The Value of Sovaldi: Societal Cost Issues of New Interventions on Hepatitis C, can be found here

By analyzing the societal cost implications of Chronic Hepatitis C, we aim to help patients, providers, pharma, pharmacy, payers, and policymakers increase their knowledge and understanding of the value of this treatment—as well as the complex relationships between drug costs and the longer term costs of a disease. We hope that you find this white paper to be both thought-provoking and useful, and we welcome your feedback. We thank you for your interest, and we hope you enjoy our comprehensive analysis.

Preventive Medicine: Controlling the Nation’s Healthcare Cost Epidemic

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As defined by the American College of Preventive Medicine, preventive medicine focuses on the health of individuals, communities, and defined populations. The overarching goal of preventive medicine is to protect, promote, and maintain our health and well-being and to prevent disease, disability, and death. It is important to take these measures to ensure our nation is utilizing all available resources to promote preventive medicine because healthcare costs are continuing to rise to unsustainable numbers, and future projections are only getting worse.

As U.S. citizens, we may believe the value of the U.S. healthcare infrastructure is second to none. However, Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Health, believes otherwise. In a recent article, Merlo states that the U.S. is still in the infant stages of implementing the necessary healthcare changes and innovations that will significantly reduce these seemingly endless healthcare costs (Winston-Salem Journal, February 2015). Although the healthcare industry has been moving in the right direction and has some great achievements in healthcare over the last few years, consumers and employers alike continue to find themselves tangled in a “cost-quality-access conundrum”.

So, what is it that makes up this seemingly never-ending conundrum? Merlo says that over $300 billion dollars are spent on avoidable and unnecessary health-care expenses every year (Winston-Salem Journal, February 2015). In addition to the recent cessation of cigarette sales at CVS stores, Merlo believes that in order to start reducing these unsustainably high costs, health organizations must implement “whole-body” evaluations. These are an effort to reduce people’s time in their doctor’s office, as well as their money spent.

Although there will always be analysts reporting the exact dollar amount of money saved (or lost) in regards to the healthcare and preventive medicine, one thing is for certain, when consumers commit to taking control and responsibility of their healthcare, the U.S. can make significant strides towards improvements in healthcare innovations. Not only will they save themselves time and money, they will be keep themselves as healthy as possible.

Additionally, preventive medicine has implications for not-only patients, but also the other healthcare stakeholders – including payers, pharma, and policymakers. And other trends such as capitation payment models, informed and empowered patients, the proliferation of ACOs, and consumer driven healthcare all have dramatic implications and are driving the shift from a fee-for-service to a value-based healthcare model. This paradigm shift will fundamentally change the way we view healthcare value, including quality, access, and costs. Please check back for more blog posts, as CHI will be exploring healthcare value in more depth in the coming months.

5th Annual Diversity, Inclusion, & Life Sciences Symposium on 6/10/15

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The Center for Healthcare Innovation is organizing our 5th Diversity, Inclusion, & Life Sciences Symposium on Wednesday, June 10th in Chicago, IL. The symposium is the world’s leading forum focused specifically on diversity, inclusion, healthcare, and the life sciences. It is an interactive and collaborative discussion for life science and healthcare executives, professionals, patient advocates, entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers, scientists, technologists, and academics to discuss best practices, challenges, and opportunities of topics such as: Understanding Obstacles to Clinical Trials & Healthcare for Underrepresented Populations, Leveraging Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for Success, and How to Recruit & Develop a Diverse, Talented Workforce. Attendees will gain valuable knowledge, information, and insights, as well as meet new colleagues and connections.

Just some of the organizations currently represented include: AbbVie, American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, Astellas, Baxter, BlackDoctor.org, Dell, DePaul University, GE Healthcare, Genentech, Genzyme, GSK, Hospira, inVentiv Health Clinical, Lundbeck, Lurie Cancer Center, MCHC, Northwestern University, Novartis, Pfizer, Quest Diagnostics, Sanofi, Takeda, and the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The symposium is sponsored by Sanofi, Takeda, the Lurie Cancer Center of Northwestern University, and the Clinical Research Exchange. The symposium is hosted by the Chicago offices of Seyfarth Shaw.

Please visit lifesciencesdiversity.org for more information.

About CHI
The Center for Healthcare Innovation is an independent, 501(c)(3) research and educational institute that helps patients and providers increase their knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and challenges of maximizing healthcare value to improve health and quality of life. We aim to make the world a healthier place. CHI encourages and enables meaningful and executable innovation that aims to address existing and ensuing healthcare dynamics through communication, education, training, symposia, reports, and research. By bringing the best and brightest healthcare leaders from all over the world together to share their ideas and expertise, CHI creates a unique opportunity to address and improve healthcare value, which we view as a function of quality, access, and cost.

Dr. Banu Onaral, PhD H.H. Sun Professor and Director School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems Drexel University, to deliver Welcoming Address at CHI’s Emerging Markets in Life Sciences Symposium

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We are pleased and honored that Dr. Banu Onaral, PhD H.H. Sun Professor and Director School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems Drexel University, will deliver the Distinguished Welcoming Address at next week’s Emerging Markets in Life Sciences Symposium on October 23, 2014.  For more information please visit http://chisite.org/events/emergingMarketsRelationships.