Where Can We Find Savings in Health Care?

The journal Health Affairs asks

The June 2014 issue of Health Affairs features various approaches to cost savings in the USA health care system and several other articles that may be of interest to the global community.

Marketing barriers for biosimiliars

Because bringing biosimilars to the market currently requires large investments of money, fewer biosimilars are expected to enter the USA biologics market than has been the case with generic drugs entering the small-molecule drug market.

Henry Grabowski, who is a professor emeritus and director of the Program in Pharmaceutical Health Economics at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina and co-authors examine the legislation passed by Congress in 2010 to establish an abbreviated FDA approval pathway for biosimiliars.

They found that biosimilars will need to compete with their reference product on the basis of quality; price; and manufacturer's reputation with physicians, insurers and patient groups.

Biosimilars also will face dynamic competition from new biologics in the same therapeutic class—including "biobetters," which offer incremental improvements on reference products, such as extended duration of action.

The prospects for significant cost savings from the use of biosimilars, the authors wrote, appear to be limited for the next several years, but their use should increase over time because of both demand- and supply-side factors.

When those aged between 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer, the implications later in life extend well beyond health

Gery Guy Jr, a health economist in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia and co-authors examined Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data and determined that survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers had annual per person medical expenditures of 7,417 USD, compared to 4,247 USD for adults without a cancer history.

They also found an annual per capita lost productivity of 4,564 USD per cancer survivor compared to 2,314 USD for adults without a cancer history.

The authors suggest that the disparities are associated with ongoing medical care needs and employment challenges connected to cancer survivorship, and that having health insurance alone is not enough to close the gap.

The authors stress the importance of access to lifelong follow-up care and education to help lessen the economic burden of this important population of cancer survivors.

Publication of Health Affairs' June 2014 issue also marks the arrival of Alan Weil as its new editor-in-chief. Weil, a highly respected expert in health policy, has been the executive director of the USA National Academy for State Health Policy since 2004. Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy.

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