Open Medicine EU

What’s New?

I mentioned in passing in my last post that new medicines are not necessarily innovative. This can be seen in the 2010 Report of the French National Health Authority, the “Haute Autorité de santé”.

The authority’s “Commission de la Transparence (évaluation des médicaments)” evaluates the efficacy of each medicine under two headings – the therapeutic importance of the medicine (service médical rendu or SMR) and the extent if any to which it seems to be an improvement on medicines/treatments already available (amélioration du service médical rendu or ASMR). These evaluations play an important part in decisions on re-imbursement.

Among 130 new medicines evaluated in 2010 the Committee estimated that 14 represented a large, moderate or at least slight (“faible”) therapeutic improvement on medicines or treatments already available. (Extract in original French below.)

So, on this basis, most medicines would appear to be “me-too” medicines. These may be useful up to a point, in terms of increasing choice and avoiding monopolies, but I wonder if we need quite so many. Pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money on research – how can we ensure that more of this money is directed towards achieving significant therapeutic advances, instead of just more of the same?

Extract from Rapport annuel d’activité de la HAS – 2010
“..En 2010, la Commission a estimé que 14 des spécialités
évaluées parmi 130 nouveaux médicaments, quelle que
soit la procédure d’évaluation, apportaient un progrès
thérapeutique (ASMR de niveau I à III). Ces spécialités sont
des vaccins pour la plupart (agissant dans la prévention de
la méningite, de l’hépatite A) ou des traitements de maladies
rares telles que les cryopyrinopathies (CAPS), des
hémophilies liées à un déficit en facteur XIII, le purpura
thrombopénique auto-immun idiopathique chronique ou
enfin dans certaines pathologies malignes hématologiques…”

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