Guest post: Value-based agreements can improve outcomes and even save patients money at the pharmacy counter

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor November 7, 2019


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Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view. Views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today.

Today, we are pleased to welcome a guest post from Rick R. Suarez, senior vice president of U.S. market access at AstraZeneca.  

Thanks to scientific advances in labs at biopharmaceutical companies, researchers can now develop medicines that target specific patients’ health needs. This incredible progress is transforming the way we treat patients for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, asthma and diabetes: We can now better determine what treatments will work for individual patients, rather than assign a one-size-fits-all treatment for every patient with these diseases. But for these scientific advances to improve health outcomes, they need to be accessible and affordable to patients.

That’s where value-based arrangements step in. These contracts involve biopharmaceutical companies and payers coming together to adjust the net price of a medicine based on how well it performs in the payers’ population. Ideally, the medicine has the desired effect on patients’ health outcomes. But if the medicine doesn’t deliver the anticipated benefits to patients, payers don’t have to pay biopharmaceutical companies the full cost of the medicine.

Patients benefit from these arrangements, too. They can see improved health outcomes, better access to treatments and reduced out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter. For example, UPMC Health Plan worked with my company, AstraZeneca, on a value-based arrangement for a cardiovascular medicine for Medicare patients. These patients used to pay, on average, over $40 for a month-long supply of the medicine. After the value-based arrangement went into effect, patients’ out-of-pocket costs were reduced to just $10.

These types of innovative payment models are exactly what we need to keep pace with the rapid advancement in treatments and cures. By moving from a system that rewards the volume of medicines prescribed to one that rewards the value of a treatment, we can ensure our health care system continues to reward innovation while controlling costs.

These types of contracts require biopharmaceutical companies to be accountable to payers for patient outcomes. We are willing to do so to ensure the right patients get access to the right treatments. Learn more here.

Rick R. Suarez is senior vice president of U.S. market access at AstraZeneca and is a member of the U.S. leadership team. Rick leads teams responsible for securing patient access to AstraZeneca medicines in collaboration with national and regional payers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs). Rick’s teams are also responsible for reimbursement support through our internal hub, AstraZeneca Access 360 and one of the longest-standing patient assistance programs in the industry.  

Rick has nearly two decades of diverse experience in healthcare leading teams aligned to Sales, Marketing and Market Access. Rick holds a BS in Chemistry and Sociology from the University of N. Alabama.  

Rick brings unique perspective on the external environment and the move towards greater focus on value-based payment. Under Rick’s leadership, AstraZeneca has emerged as an industry leader in value-based agreements. 

Topics: Value-Driven Health Care, The Value Collaborative