Health IT

A Web-based risk management tool provides interactive map of global drug reimbursement

A health IT startup has developed a platform designed to aggregate global drug reimbursement data. The risk management tool is designed to save the time and money it takes drug developers to chase down the information from disparate sources. Anyone familiar with the drug development process knows it is fraught with risk. In the eight […]

A health IT startup has developed a platform designed to aggregate global drug reimbursement data. The risk management tool is designed to save the time and money it takes drug developers to chase down the information from disparate sources.

Anyone familiar with the drug development process knows it is fraught with risk. In the eight to 10 years it can take to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, many things can happen. There are many more movable parts that factor into a pharmaceutical company’s scenarios for a drug’s success or failure. The progress other companies make with their clinical trials for drugs and therapeutics treating the same condition and changes to reimbursement policies by public and private payers and agencies are just a few factors that could have a significant impact on a company’s strategy for any one drug.

New York-based startup Context Matters’ cloud-based, risk-management tool provides a global picture of each country’s reimbursement agency decisions for drugs treating 35 conditions. The data is updated on a monthly basis so the information doesn’t get stale. Yin Ho, the founder and CEO of Context Matters, said the company ultimately wants to have all conditions included in the platform but “you have to start somewhere.”

Ho worked as a physician in emergency medicine before getting her MBA and working for Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) e-health division to help the pharmaceutical giant vet startups in which to invest.  She said one of the strengths of the tool is it provides data transparency — you can look at global drug reimbursement policies and achieve in minutes what it would take other companies a lot of money or a lot of staff time to accomplish.

In a demo to explain how the Reimbursement Risk Tracker works, Ho selected multiple sclerosis. The platform gives an overview of the disease. It provides a breakdown of which companies are currently working on a treatment and the clinical trials that are currently under way for MS treatments. Through an interactive global map, users can see a breakdown for each country of what their reimbursements for each MS treatment are –- which ones they have rejected, and whether they later reviewed the same drug and approved it, whether they included restrictions and what those restrictions are.

It can also provide a timeline for how these reviews stack up against FDA approval. Users can compare and contrast several countries to see how their reviews for one drug stack up against each other.

Ho says getting feedback from big pharma companies in the early stages of the platform’s development was critical to coming out with the final product at the end of last month.

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The result is a tool that she envisions will be used in different ways by big and small drug developers. Smaller companies may want to use the tool for analysis only, for example, so subscription rates for companies vary. There is also scope for payers who are expected to collaborate more with pharmaceutical companies to finance drug development, as research data from companies like Quintiles suggests.

The desire for greater drug price transparency combined with the pressure to cut costs has spurred some states to adopt new strategies. The Drug Effectiveness Review Project, run out of Oregon Health & Science University,  was launched in 2000 in response to escalating drug costs in its Medicaid program. Oregon established the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center to produce systematic, comparative effectiveness reviews of drugs. The program has since grown to include 11 member states for which it produces comparative effectiveness analyses. DERP also makes its reviews publicly available.

Another benefit Ho sees from the platform is that the increased transparency her company’s tool provides will spur more informed conversations about drug reimbursement issues.