Paying for Cures: How Can We Afford It? Managed Care Pharmacy Stakeholder Perceptions of Policy Options to Address Affordability of Prescription Drugs

J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2017 Oct;23(10):1084-1090. doi: 10.18553/jmcp.2017.23.10.1084.


Background: High-priced medications with curative potential, such as the newer hepatitis C therapies, have contributed to the recent growth in pharmaceutical expenditure. Despite the obvious benefits, health care decision makers are just beginning to grapple with questions of how to value and pay for curative therapies that may feature large upfront cost, followed by health benefits that are reaped over a patient's lifespan. Alternative policy options have been proposed to promote high value and financially sustainable use of these therapies. It is unclear which policy options would be most acceptable to health care payer and biomedical manufacturer stakeholders.

Objectives: To (a) briefly review pharmaceutical policy options to address health system affordability and (b) assess the acceptability of alternative policy options to health care payers and biomedical manufacturers before and after an Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) continuing pharmacy education (CPE) session.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE and Cochran databases for pharmaceutical policy options addressing affordability. With input from a focus group of managed care professionals, we developed CPE session content and an 8-question survey focusing on the most promising policy options. We fielded the survey before and after the CPE session, which occurred as part of the 2016 AMCP Annual Meeting. We first conducted a chi-squared goodness-of-fit test to assess response distributions. Next, we tested how responses differed before and after by using an ordered logit and a multinomial logit to model Likert scale and unordered responses, respectively.

Results: Although risk-sharing payments over time remained the most favorable choice before (37%) and after (35%) the CPE session, this choice was closely followed by HealthCoin after the session, which increased in favorability from 4% to 33% of responses (P = 0.001). About half of the respondents (54%) indicated that legislative change is the most significant barrier to the implementation of any policy.

Conclusions: As high-cost curative drugs reach the market, managed care stakeholders need information from a balanced education source regarding alternative policies to address affordability. We found that after the AMCP CPE session, risk-sharing payments over time and HealthCoin were the most favorable options.

Disclosures: No funding was provided for this research. Carlson reports consulting fees from Genentech, Pfizer, and Seattle Genetics. The other authors have nothing to disclose. Study concept and design were contributed by Yeung, Garrison, and Carlson. Yeung collected the data, which were interpreted by Yeung and Basu. The manuscript was written by Yeung, Suh, and Bansal and revised by Yeung. A portion of this research was presented at the Academy of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting as a continuing education session entitled "Paying for Cures: How Can We Afford It?" on April 20, 2016, in San Francisco, California.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Education, Pharmacy, Continuing / economics
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Insurance Benefits / economics
  • Managed Care Programs / economics*
  • Perception
  • Pharmaceutical Services / economics
  • Pharmacy / methods
  • Prescription Drugs / economics*


  • Prescription Drugs