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Value-based drug agreements are easier when drug manufacturers and payers follow FDA communication guidelines

When pharmaceutical manufacturers share clinical and economic data about their products in the pipeline, payers can prepare their budgets and formularies to launch value-based drug pricing arrangements as soon as a new treatment receives FDA approval. Pre-approval data sharing between manufacturers and payers gives patients quicker access to newly approved treatments.


As the healthcare system in the U.S. continues its transition from fee-for-service to value-based care, the sharing of healthcare economic information (HCEI) is becoming increasingly important to pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare payers seeking to enter value-based drug pricing arrangements.

In the past, drug manufacturers were hesitant to share HCEI and other pre-approval information with payers because regulations were unclear about the legal limits of this type of communication. But payers want HCEI from drug manufacturers for planning, formulary design, budgeting, and purchasing decisions. And lawmakers want to eliminate legislative barriers that inhibit the sharing of HCEI and the increased adoption of value-based healthcare.

The history of legislation surrounding manufacturer/payer communications

Policymakers and regulators, like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recognize the importance of big data and the sharing of HCEI for promoting value-based payment arrangements. Their first attempts to remove the legislative barriers to the exchange of HCEI between drug and device manufacturers and population healthcare managers did not produce the desired effects.

The first U.S. federal consumer protection law, the Food and Drugs Act, was enacted in 1906. This law’s consumer protections and law enforcement capabilities were strengthened by the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C). Section 502(a) of the FD&C introduced and defined HCEI, giving the pharmaceutical industry their first instructions about what kind of economic data promotion could be communicated and with whom. But manufacturers refused to share information, fearing the penalties of accidentally disseminating off-label information.

Section 114 of the FDA Modernization Act (FDAMA) of 1997, amended FD&C Section 502(a) and provided a safe harbor for HCEI sharing. But manufacturers continued to resist sharing economic data because they felt the guidelines were still too vague about some topics, such as the definition of reliable scientific evidence and who was authorized to receive HCEI. The FDA failed to issue guidance on how to interpret the law.

The industry-wide push towards value-based care after the Affordable Care Act passed made clarification of Section 114 a priority again. In 2016, policymakers issued clarifying guidance about communications and transparency of HCEI, both pre- and post- FDA approval. The 21st Century Cures Act, Section 3037 further defined what types of HCEI and analyses could be used for drug promotion and to whom the HCEI should be communicated. The FDA published a draft payer guidance document in 2017 and then final guidance documents in 2018 suggesting ways to operationalize communications between pharmaceutical manufacturers and payers.

Current FDA guidance

An FDA press statement from June 2018 emphasizes that the 2018 guidance documents are meant to help pharmaceutical manufacturers provide payers with truthful, non-misleading background and contextual information about their products. Furthermore, manufacturers are encouraged to share both clinical data and HCEI payers need to make informed decisions about formulary management, cost effectiveness and reimbursement; this may be more and different data than the safety and efficacy data submitted by the manufacturer to the FDA for drug approval decisions.

The guidance, Drug and Device Manufacturer Communications with Payors, Formulary Committees, and Similar Entities–Questions and Answers, expands upon the sources of scientific evidence for HCEI as defined under Section 502(a). And the guidance clarifies who can receive HCEI, including public and private sector payers, formulary committees, technology assessment panels, third-party administrators, and other multidisciplinary parties.

This first guidance also addresses manufacturers’ communications with payers regarding unapproved uses of FDA-approved products. The FDA does not object to the sharing of this type of information as long as the manufacturer makes it abundantly clear in its communications what uses the product is not approved for.

The second guidance introduced in the FDA press statement is titled Medical Product Communications That Are Consistent With FDA-Required Labeling–Questions and Answers. It pertains to information not included in a drug’s labeling but information that a manufacturer may want to share with payers. Examples can include data from pre- and post-market studies or surveillance of patient compliance that can affect the measurement of a drug’s benefits to health outcomes in value-based contracts. (The first guidance offers safe harbor for communications related to the negotiations or implementation of value-based drug pricing agreements.)

Timing of information exchanges

Payers prefer to receive information regularly from manufacturers during the latter part of the FDA drug approval process. Annual budgets and formulary planning are more difficult to forecast if payers don’t have data in advance to prepare for the coverage of a new drug. Payers are more likely to make a newly approved treatment available to patients without delay when manufacturers share the clinical data and HCEI needed to make formulary and pricing decisions during pre-approval.

Under the FDA’s accelerated approval process, therapies sometimes become available to patients even before the publication of clinical trial data is complete. Payers say, ideally, they would like clinical and HCEI data about new products 12 to 18 months before the projected FDA approval date.

Many manufacturers wait to begin communications with payers until just 6 to 12 months before their product’s expected approval date. Recognizing the importance of HCEI in negotiating value-based drug pricing arrangements, some manufacturers have included HCEI in their FDA product dossier and promotional materials for payers.

The FDA guidance recommends increased transparency about cost data, including price range, price parity with competitors, price premiums, discounts, and inflation adjustments. Some manufacturers and payers prefer to wait for final clinical trial data before discussing pricing. Post-approval data-sharing of real-world evidence must continue between manufacturers and payers to implement value-based drug pricing agreements.

The Lyfegen solution

With most regulatory barriers removed and value-based contract communications exempted from FDA reporting, policymakers hope to see an increase in value-based drug pricing arrangements. Manufacturers and payers can partner with third-party vendors like Lyfegen to employ technology that facilitates easy, continued data-sharing for innovative pricing agreements.

Lyfegen is an independent, global analytics company that offers a value-based contracting platform for healthcare insurances, pharma, and medtech companies wanting to implement value-based drug pricing arrangements with greater efficiency and transparency. The Lyfegen Platform collects real-world data and uses intelligent algorithms to provide valuable information about drug performance and cost.

By enabling the shift away from volume-based and fee-for-service healthcare to value-based healthcare, Lyfegen increases access to healthcare treatments and their affordability.

To learn more about our services and the Lyfegen Platform, book a demo.


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