Value-added medicines offer the medical world the opportunity to increase the quality of treatments as well as expand access to healthcare for more people. By improving the efficiency of the healthcare system, value-based healthcare contributes to its sustainability, addresses inefficiencies related to medicines, and offers economic advantages to all parties involved in medical treatments.
What is a value-added medicine?
Value-added medicines are drug products and treatments created using known molecules through a process known as drug repositioning. The purpose of these innovative medicines is to create improvements in the quality of patient care.
What type of improvement can value-added medicines deliver?
Value-added pharmaceutical products can deliver a wide variety of improvements for patients and healthcare professionals. Value-based healthcare is cost-effective, safe, and less prone to medical errors. In addition, the value-added approach empowers health workers to give better care and incentivizes healthier lifestyles.
The adoption of value-added medicines can lead to these relevant improvements:
- Increased drug efficacy
- A better safety and tolerability profile
- Improved methods of administration
- Ease of use
Value-based treatment options give patients more agency to manage their ailments, leading to improved patient adherence, quality of life, and health outcomes. Likewise, improved treatments prevent medical conditions to escalate to serious levels. This lightens the burden that patients in critical condition put on healthcare systems, giving doctors and nurses some much-needed breathing space.
How do value-added medicines deliver these benefits?
There are three main methods used in the elaboration of value-added medicines: drug repositioning, drug reformulation, and drug combination.
Also known as drug repurposing, reprofiling, or re-tasking, this strategy investigates already existing drugs to find new therapeutic purposes for them. Modern drug repositioning has benefited from advances in human genomics, network biology, and chemoproteomics.
It is now possible for scientists to find genes responsible for specific diseases and see how they interact with different substances. Research has proven that drugs supported by human genetics are twice as likely to be approved (source). Drug repositioning has taken a fundamental role in the fight against cancer and COVID-19.
Pharmaceutical formulation is a process where different chemical substances are combined to produce a new medicine. In a reformulation, different formulations are developed for the same pharmaceutical product. Drug reformulation is an effective strategy to extend the lifecycle of patented drugs and solve issues related to productivity shortfalls.
This method uses a mixture of two or more drugs in a single dosage. Also referred to as a fixed-dose combination (FDC), a combination drug has more than one active ingredient. Aspirin and paracetamol are common examples of drug combinations.
Drug combination can be beneficial to patient adherence by reducing the pill burden on patients. When several active ingredients are included in the same pill, patients have a fewer number of medications to keep track of and usage instructions to understand. This leads to a more straightforward and appealing treatment.
What R&D efforts are necessary to develop value-added medicines?
The focus of R&D efforts during the creation of value-based treatments changes depending on the type of medicinal products being developed. Distinct treatments may require the fabrication of new administration devices and other considerable R&D investments.
A clinical development program may be needed in case certain changes to a drug have been made. Performing changes to the molecular content of a drug will require development, assessment, and decision-making, and may also mean having to hire new personnel. Working alongside drug formulation experts can help reduce R&D costs while guaranteeing a high-quality final product.
A value-added medicine development strategy may require the collection of clinical data for the following assessments:
- New product safety or efficacy claims. These may be different indications, an enhanced safety profile, or an improved speed of onset.
- Variations in the blood concentration profile of a drug. Changes in dosing frequency, the strength of the dose, administration route, and many other factors may be altered by value-added medicine development. Completely new formulations may also be created.
- New combination products. Novel value-added medicines may contain previously unseen combinations of active substances.
- To support safety and efficacy in children. Certain laws and regulations, such as the European pediatric regulation, require pharmaceutical products to undergo the appropriate health and safety research.
Benefits of value-added medicines
Everyone has different preferences, which makes creating a one-fits-all approach to patient care a very complicated endeavor. We live in a day and age where people want a hands-on approach to their own health, and value-added medicines can be used to fulfill that desire. Value-based treatments empower patient populations by giving them the agency to better manage their conditions.
Current healthcare approaches put too much focus on generating quantity instead of quality. The treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can be considerably costly, putting further stress on an already unhealthy population. By shifting priorities towards improving patient satisfaction, people can be incentivized to put their health in higher regard, educate themselves on the proper use of pharmaceuticals, and enjoy cheaper treatment options.
For the healthcare community
By increasing treatment options, value-added medicine can have a positive impact on healthcare systems. The potential benefits value-added medicines can bring to the healthcare community include cost-effectiveness and a reduced need for healthcare resources.
The value-based healthcare improvements for patients can create a ripple effect across the healthcare industry. Not only is patient access and quality of healthcare enhanced, but the incremental innovation can also create a more streamlined system, benefitting the healthcare community as a whole.
For healthcare professionals
Value-added medicines group several choices together, creating an unprecedented amount of flexibility in therapy. Healthcare professionals can use value-based approaches to deal with ailments that remain unaddressed by existing therapeutic methods.
Doctors have the freedom to choose between more treatment options. Well-known active substances, such as those used to make generic medicines, may be present in value-added medicines, but their use can be tailored to the goals of the treatment. This patient-centric approach can help create a more satisfactory treatment experience for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Due to being created using already existing molecules, value-added medicines offer well-understood safety and tolerability profiles. This can give healthcare professionals more confidence to prescribe treatments that adapt to the lifestyle of patients.
Medical errors have long been a thorn in the side of medical professionals for a long time. Many treatment methods end up being not only inefficient but also harmful to the health of patients. Value-added medicines offer a reduced chance of errors happening. In addition, attention is put on patient education, leading to fewer chances of errors caused due to patient ignorance or negligence.
Other factors that improve the functionality of value-added medicines over other pharmaceutical products include:
- Fewer side effects
- Improved administration methods
- New dosage forms
- Medicines that are easier to handle
More often than not, the sustainability of healthcare budgets is afflicted by inefficiencies in health systems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the irrational use of medicines has become a worldwide problem (source). The WHO estimates that at least half of all patients are not taking their medicines appropriately. Furthermore, more than half of all drugs are prescribed, dispensed, or sold inappropriately.
Examples of improper use of medicines include:
- The use of too many medicines by only one person, known as polypharmacy
- Unfitting use of antimicrobials, including their use in inadequate dosages and for non-bacterial infections
- The over-use of injections when more suitable oral formulations exist in the pharmaceutical market
- The failure of prescriptions to adhere to clinical guidelines
- Self-medication, especially when prescription-only medicines are involved
- Failure to adhere to dosing regimes
Value-added medicines provide an alternative to commonplace treatments that is more appealing and easy to follow. Treatments that are tailored to specific patient populations promote the appropriate and safe use of pharmaceuticals. Insurance sponsors, including large employers benefit from more efficient and time and cost-effective medicines and treatments.
Example of therapeutic areas: respiratory diseases
Respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) negatively impact the lives of more than 60 million people in the EU alone. The management of these respiratory diseases is known to be risky, which leads to the conditions being associated with elevated healthcare and societal costs. Asthma and COPD are responsible for thousands of hospital admissions, costing billions in direct and indirect costs.
According to research, efficacious molecules to deal with asthma and COPD may be available but their use doesn’t take fundamental healthcare inefficiencies into account. Studies show that low patient adherence is prevalent, leading to poor patient outcomes, increased risk of hospitalizations, and medical visits (source).
By offering more agreeable treatment options, value-based healthcare may instantaneously increase the efficiency of the management of respiratory diseases. Active substances known to be beneficial can be delivered with the use of value-added medicines, helping reduce and avert health complications and bloated healthcare budgets alike.