Combinations of on-patent therapies (CTs) are increasingly common in oncology. They cause challenges for funding and affordability, and hence patient access, especially when constituent therapies are owned by different manufacturers. The aim of our study was to develop policy proposals for the assessment, pricing, and funding of CTs and identify which might be relevant in different European countries.
Following a review of available literature, seven hypothetical policy proposals were developed and subsequently assessed through 19 semi-structured interviews with health policy, pricing, technology assessment and legal experts in seven European countries to identify those most likely to gain traction.
Experts saw a need for agreed approaches within a country to manage affordability and funding challenges for CTs. Changes to health technology assessment (HTA) and funding models were considered unlikely, but other policy proposals were seen as mostly useful, with country-specific adaptations. Bilateral discussions between manufacturers and payers were deemed important, and less challenging and protracted than arbitrated dialogue between manufacturers. Usage-specific pricing, possibly using weighted average prices, was considered a prerequisite for the financial management of CTs.
There is a growing need to ensure that CTs are affordable to health systems. It would appear that there is no one set of policies that is appropriate for all countries in Europe, so countries wishing to ensure that patients have (or continue to have) access to CTs of value to them must explore and implement the policies that are best suited to their general approach to funding health care and to the assessment and reimbursement of medicines.