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April 28, 2016
Price and value: Talking with industry leaders at MassBio 2016
By: Jeff Elton Ph.D.

What does value mean for life science leaders and how does it affect the development of new therapies and treatments?

At the end of March, I attended the 2016 MassBio Annual Meeting in Cambridge, MA. The conference focuses on the most critical challenges facing the Massachusetts life sciences industry, with keynote presentations, panel discussions, interactive working sessions and extensive networking opportunities. The theme for this year’s meeting was “The Promise and Value of Medical Innovation.”

This year it was my pleasure to moderate a conference-wide session addressing one of the most important conversations in the life sciences industry today: Price and Value.

For this session, we welcomed panel members:

  • Katrine Bosley, CEO, Editas

  • John Glasspool, Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Strategy and Customer Operations, Baxalta

  • Peter Neumann, Director of the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health, Tufts University

During the session, Peter talked about the drug value-based frameworks emerging from the US private sector, the analytical challenges of measuring value and whether or not value addresses affordability. Value-based frameworks vary widely across organizations, but they all attempt to account for factors underlying value, such as:

  • Quality of clinical data supporting the therapy's use.

  • Magnitude of a treatment’s effects.

  • Likelihood of severe adverse events.

  • Product costs.

  • Ancillary benefits.

  • Cost-effectiveness.

  • Effects on the health system budget.

At Baxalta, John says they see value as being the offset medical need and the change in the patient’s status from a quality of life perspective. But the company is also beginning to look at the societal benefits of the therapies they bring to market and seeing those benefits as an important aspect of value. The team at Baxalta consider value by asking three questions:

  • What is the patient’s unmet need?

  • What is the standard of care?

  • What is the healthcare system?

The answers to these questions greatly affect their approach to therapeutic development.

Katrine talked about the tension between rising healthcare costs, the industry-wide imperative to innovate and the issues for companies subsidizing innovation that will benefit patients in countries around the world. The treatment of Hepatitis C is one example of a therapeutic that is seen as a spectacular technical achievement in the industry. A twelve-week course of therapy, the treatment has an extremely high response rate, is well-tolerated by many patients and offers huge economic benefits to the healthcare system. What made the news headlines though, is the price of the drug. This clearly shows that, as an industry, we need to look at how we talk about value.

Other highlights of the conference for me included the opening keynote by Kate Marshall, a high school honors student, athlete and CF advocate, who shared her experiences as a patient and how the biotech industry has changed her life. And the closing keynote by renowned biotech industry leader, Dr. Tony Coles, who is the Chairman and CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics, a company focused on neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Loue Gehrig’s disease.

My sincere thanks to MassBio for another wonderful event. As always, the organizers did a superb job.

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