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An interesting opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday. Samuel D. Waksal, founder and chief executive of the biotechnology company Kadmon, believes that patients and insurance companies shouldn’t have to pay for prescription drugs unless they produce positive and provable results.
“Here’s how this ‘pay-for-response model’ would work: Say a drug company receives approval for a breast cancer drug. Potential patients would be screened to determine whether their cancer was likely to respond to the drug, depending on whether it had, for example, a particular genetic marker. Most of the cancers that do should respond to the drug, but the presence of the genetic marker is still no guarantee. The Food and Drug Administration could help to come up with criteria with which to determine whether a patient is responding to a drug. If the patient’s oncologist and radiologist determine that the patient is benefiting based on those criteria, then the drug company should be paid. For a cancer drug, these criteria could include anything from tumor shrinkage to survival…
“Not only would this save money, but it would also push drug companies to figure out why certain patients don’t respond to treatment and what to do about it, and researchers to aggressively study genetic variation in disease before beginning larger studies. It would also encourage testing with multiple drugs, approved and experimental, to target just the right pathways of disease in each and every population. Biotechnology companies like mine could stand to profit from this change, but the overall gains to the health care system would be far larger.”
The complete editorial is available on the Times website. (The paper does note that, prior to his work at Kadmon, Waksal spent five years in prison for insider trading.)