IMS Health's top 10 'harbingers of change' in pharmaceutical business

September 29, 2014

Payer trends dominate near-term outlook

The IMS Health Institute for Healthcare Informatics has published a white paper, “Harbingers of Change in Healthcare: Implications for the role and use of medicines,” that’s worth a look. It is a little sketchy on how the 10 items were chosen (the report lists five IMS Health analysts as authors; and that’s it), while noting that the list is “not intended to be exhaustive.” On the other hand, the items are backed up by up-to-date market data (IMS Health’s core service); for example, it notes that Medicare prescriptions for sofosburvir (Gilead Science’s Sovaldi) and simeprivir (J&J’s Olysio), for hepatitis C, jumped eightfold (to over 105,000 prescriptions by September (the first 39 weeks the drugs were on the market), as compared to the introduction of earlier, interferon-based treatments introduced in 2011. That’s a solid indicator of the extent to which prescribers were “warehousing” patients in anticipation of the drugs’ approvals.

Here are the 10:

  • Technology Rushes to Healthcare: Google, Apple and Samsung make new overtures to bring mobile, cloud and wearable technology to healthcare
  • Hepatitis C Cluster of Innovation Triggers New Thinking on Financing of Cures: Cures can save billions in the long term but have high upfront costs
  • Breakthrough Vaccines Become Available: Philanthropy-driven research begins to deliver life-saving vaccines for communicable diseases
  • Biologics Reach Patients in Pharmerging Countries: Patient access to biologic medicines in pharmerging countries is growing rapidly
  • Governments Unshackle Data: Wide release of granular healthcare data adds new data transparency and accountability
  • Medicine Spending Growth Returns to Developed Countries: A return to higher growth in drug spending after years of lower growth will create new challenges
  • US Payment and Delivery Models Shift Focus to Value: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are forming faster than anticipated and will remake the U.S. healthcare environment
  • Clinicians Consider Costs: Doctors are being encouraged to weigh the cost of treatments with their benefits
  • China Loosens Price Caps: Sustaining the availability and quality of essential drugs may mean higher generic prices
  • Purchasing Groups Consolidate Across a Fragmented Landscape: Mega trans-Atlantic purchasing groups rebalance negotiating power for generic drugs

Arguably, several of these harbingers are already established fact: clinicians’ cost focus is well along (often through formulary requirements); and ACOs have been forming up for a couple years now (ACOs and “ACO-like” organizations now cover 10% of the US population). But 10 trends’ near- and long-term effects are seeping into more and more of how the pharma industry will address its clientele, from prescribers to central governments worldwide.

The report is available here.