There is widespread concern regarding the high price of innovative medicines and their impact on the sustainability of healthcare systems. However, the debate rarely accounts for the evolution of prices over the lifetime of the medicine and the impact of competitive forces. This article uses the experience of hepatitis C (HCV), during the years 2010–2017 to examine the impact of in-class competition and implications for policies that enable competition. To study the HCV market, we focused on European countries and applied a two-step approach involving a comprehensive literature review and an analysis of monthly sales data in US$ across seven European countries from July 2011 until July 2017. We find that competition to address the unmet medical need has led to significant treatment improvements to the benefit of patients, payers and the wider healthcare system and society.
Competitive launches have led to innovative agreements, lowering the cost per treatment and improving patient access to treatment. For innovators, intense competition does not only impact the price set and their market share but in many cases shortens the economic life of the product to only a fraction of the patented period. This has an impact on future research decisions, focusing efforts on areas where unmet need is greatest. Sustainable innovation requires a well-balanced policy framework that provides the appropriate incentives and encourages competition.
Tim Wilsdon and Artes Haderi co-authored this piece with Boris Azais, Kathy Pendleton, and Alexander Roediger.
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