Entries by William Smith

An Act advancing health care research and decision-making centered on patients and people with disabilities

On November 9th, 2021, William Smith, Pioneer Institute Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences, submitted the following testimony to the Massachusetts Legislature in support of House Bill 201, which addresses a number of flaws and infirmities in the Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) methodology that is utilized by a number of foreign nations in evaluating the value of medicines.

An “Impending Tsunami” in Mortality from Traditional Diseases?

This report examines whether, after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the U.S. will have another looming public health crisis emerging from patients failing to have had their cardiology needs addressed properly during the lockdowns. Moreover, if we surmise that a follow-on public health crisis will emerge, we can also conclude that certain population segments are going to be more impacted by CVD, as there are documented health disparities in this therapeutic area. Finally, there are policy changes that could be taken to mitigate a possible spike in CVD adverse events; the paper will close by recommending certain policy changes.

A Modest Proposal to Raise Federal Revenue

As a way to tackle drug prices, President Joe Biden recently announced that he supports the so-called “inflation rebate,” which would require drug companies to give the federal government any revenue from Medicare drug prices above the general rate of inflation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have also publicly endorsed the inflation rebate.

A Rush to Judgment on Alzheimer’s Drug

The Boston-based Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) sells itself as an independent source of information on the value of pharmaceuticals. But earlier this month, their bias was again evident when they tried to kneecap a drug for a dreaded disease before there’s even enough data to determine how valuable the drug really is. ICER has adopted this same strategy in the past on innovative drugs for cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other devastating diseases. This time ICER’s target is aducanumab, Biogen’s drug for Alzheimer’s disease.

The QALY and Cancer Treatments: An Ill-Advised Match

This report examines the alarming methodological and contextual shortcomings of the Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY)-based methodology in evaluating new cancer therapies. It reveals five specific problems with ICER’s evaluation of cancer treatments and demonstrates the urgent need to prohibit the use of the QALY amid trends in rapid cancer innovations and personalized medicine.

ICER Proves Its Lack of Business Acumen, Again

A recent Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) “Report on Unsupported Price Increases,” concluded that: “Among the top drugs with price increases in 2019…ICER determined that seven of 10 lacked adequate new evidence to demonstrate a substantial clinical benefit that was not yet previously known.”  The impression left by the report is that drug companies arbitrarily raise prices without good reason.  As with so many ICER products, the study is misleading and demonstrates a profound lack of business acumen.

Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY): The Threat to Older Americans

This report examines how the QALY methodology to determine drug treatment value threatens to discriminate against older adults by placing a lower value on treatments that would extend the life of or improve quality of life for older patients.  This clear bias against providing access to therapies to seniors comes at a critical and especially vulnerable time for older Americans given the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

Looming Challenges for ICER in Assessing the Value of Rare Disease Therapies

This report examines why the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) and the Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) approach to value assessment is particularly ill-suited to assess the cost-effectiveness of orphan and rare disease treatments, which represent a rapidly growing sector of the biopharmaceutical marketplace.

Key Questions for Legislators on the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER)

As states continue to grapple with prescription drug costs, a new Pioneer Institute study lays out the key ethical, methodological and disease-specific questions policy makers should address before deciding whether to contract with the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) to conduct cost effectiveness reviews used to make decisions about the purchase of medicines and other medical innovations.

Will New England See Lower Prices from Drug Pricing Transparency Legislation?

This report finds that most new drug pricing transparency laws do not lower consumer out-of-pocket costs, and that expensive and onerous compliance rules would likely put upward pressure on prices. The report reviews recent New England legislative attempts to reduce costs by requiring the disclosure of wholesale drug prices and other information about industry pricing practices.