We work so hard trying to get Parkinson’s medications developed and through the phases of clinical testing, that it’s easy to think of the finish line as approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Truthfully, though, they’re not the only ones who decide if drugs make their way to patient hands.
Payers (insurance companies and Medicaid and Medicare) play a role not only in helping patients get the therapies they need but also in encouraging drug companies to invest in developing new drugs.
A survey of biotech CEOs revealed that the biggest perceived threat for successful product development is no longer regulatory review but insurance coverage and reimbursements. Biotech companies trying to lure bigger partners who can help them advance promising projects are frequently asked to demonstrate commercial potential.
“At The Michael J. Fox Foundation we de-risk the Parkinson’s research field to make it more attractive to companies and investors who can create the treatments patients need,” said Lona Vincent, senior associate director of research partnerships. “Part of that is brokering conversations about the payer environment and what payers are looking for so that we can help companies design studies with the greatest potential for payer coverage.”
Last month MJFF welcomed more than 20 payers and policymakers from the neurology field to discuss what was important in evaluating Parkinson’s treatments for coverage or reimbursement. The Foundation also included physicians and a member of our Patient Council to offer education in the other direction: what outcomes people with Parkinson’s value and should be weighed in payers’ decisions.
“Our patient guest shared an impactful perspective on how his Parkinson’s symptoms affect daily activities that many of take for granted,” said Annesha White, who co-led the meeting and serves as assistant to the MJFF CEO. “The payers all agreed that it resonated with them, and they would be interested to hear more about those kinds of experiences from the patient perspective.”
We’ll continue to engage with payers to represent the patient voice and to gather information that can help inform trial design. We may need your help in collecting opinions and experiences to share. So if we email or ask on our social channels for a survey response, we hope you’ll contribute to our knowledge base. Know your input helps us in our efforts to move closer to a cure.