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Reimbursement-based economics - what is it and how can we use it to inform drug policy reform?

Coyle D, Lee KM, Mamdani M, Sabarre KA, Tingley K. Headache. 2015; 55(Suppl 4):236-47. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Background — In Ontario, approximately $3.8 billion is spent annually on publicly funded drug programs. The annual growth in Ontario Public Drug Program (OPDP) expenditure has been limited to 1.2% over the course of 3 years. Concurrently, the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN) was appointed to conduct drug class review research relating to formulary modernization within the OPDP. Drug class reviews by ODPRN incorporate a novel methodological technique called reimbursement-based economics, which focuses on reimbursement strategies and may be particularly relevant for policy-makers.

Objectives — To describe the reimbursement-based economics approach.

Methods — Reimbursement-based economics aims to identify the optimal reimbursement strategy for drug classes by incorporating a review of economic literature, comprehensive budget impact analyses, and consideration of cost-effectiveness. This 3-step approach is novel in its focus on the economic impact of alternate reimbursement strategies rather than individual therapies.

Results — The methods involved within the reimbursement-based approach are detailed. To facilitate the description, summary methods and findings from a recent application to formulary modernization with respect to the drug class tryptamine-based selective serotonin receptor agonists (triptans) used to treat migraine headaches are presented.

Conclusions — The application of reimbursement-based economics in drug policy reforms allows policy-makers to consider the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of different reimbursement strategies allowing consideration of the trade-off between potential cost savings vs increased access to cost-effective treatments.

Keywords: Health care costs Cost-benefit analysis Health policy/reform Drugs (pain)

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