Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement
Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval. Even if our product candidates are approved for marketing, sales of such product candidates will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, including government health programs in the U.S. (such as Medicare and Medicaid), commercial health insurers, and managed care organizations, provide coverage and establish adequate reimbursement levels for such product candidates. Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the EU, the U.S. and other markets to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products.
In the U.S. and markets in other countries, patients generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Adequate coverage and reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Patients are unlikely to use any product candidates we may develop unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of such product candidates.
Factors payors consider in determining reimbursement are based on whether the product is (i) a covered benefit under its health plan; (ii) safe, effective and medically necessary; (iii) appropriate for the specific patient; (iv) cost-effective; and (v) neither experimental nor investigational.
The Medicare and Medicaid programs increasingly are used as models for how private payors and other governmental payors develop their coverage and reimbursement policies for drugs and biologics. Some third-party payors may require pre-approval of coverage for new or innovative devices or drug therapies before they will reimburse healthcare providers who use such therapies. It is difficult to predict at this time what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates. No uniform policy for coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors in the U.S. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be applied consistently or obtained in the first instance. Each plan determines whether or not it will provide coverage for a product, what amount it will pay the manufacturer for the product, on what tier of its formulary the product will be placed and whether to require step therapy. The position of a product on a formulary generally determines the co-payment that a patient will need to make to obtain the product and can strongly influence the adoption of a product by patients and physicians. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication. Additionally, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. For example, the payor may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor.
Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price and examining the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs, especially drugs when an equivalent generic drug or a less expensive therapy is available. It is possible that a third-party payor may consider our product candidate and other therapies as substitutable and only offer to reimburse patients for the less expensive product. Even if we show improved efficacy or improved convenience of administration with our product candidate, pricing of existing drugs may limit the amount we will be able to charge for our product candidate. These payors may deny or revoke the reimbursement status of a given drug product or establish prices for new or existing marketed products at levels that are too low to enable us to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. If reimbursement is not available or is available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may not be able to obtain a satisfactory financial return on products that we may develop. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.
In the PRC, the newly created National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) an agency responsible for administering the PRC’s social security system, organized a price negotiation with drug companies for certain new drugs that had not been included in the national Reimbursable Drug List (RDL) at the time of the negotiation in November 2019, which resulted in an average price reduction by over 60% for 70 of the 119 drugs that passed the negotiation. NHSA, together with other government authorities, review the inclusion or removal of drugs from the PRC’s National Drug Catalog for Basic Medical Insurance, Work-related Injury Insurance and Maternity Insurance, or provincial or local medical insurance catalogues for the national medical insurance program regularly, and the tier under which a drug or device will be classified, both of which affect the amounts reimbursable to program participants for their purchases of those drugs. These determinations are made based on a number of factors, including price and efficacy. We may also be invited to attend the price negotiation with NHSA upon receiving regulatory approval in the PRC, but we will likely need to significantly reduce our prices, and to negotiate with each of the provincial healthcare security administrations on reimbursement ratios. On the other hand, if the NHSA or any of its local counterpart includes our drugs and devices in the national RDL or provincial RDL, which may increase the demand for our drug candidates and devices, our potential revenue from the sales of our drug candidates and devices may still decrease as a result of lower prices. Moreover, eligibility for reimbursement in the PRC does not imply that any drug or device will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including licensing fees, research, development, manufacture, sale and distribution.
Furthermore, rules and regulations regarding reimbursement change frequently, in some cases at short notice, and we believe that changes in these rules and regulations are likely. Outside the U.S., we will face challenges in ensuring obtaining adequate coverage and payment for any product candidates we may develop. Pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control in many countries. In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, we have needed and may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, and the cost of these studies would be in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable marketing approvals. Conducting such studies could be expensive, involve additional risk and result in delays in our commercialization efforts. Even after pharmacogenomic studies are conducted, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost-effective. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover any product candidates we may develop could reduce physician utilization of such product candidates once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition. Third-party reimbursement and coverage may not be adequate to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. The insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly approved products for orphan diseases is particularly uncertain, and failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for any such product candidates could limit our ability to generate revenue. Further, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of individuals have lost/will lose employer-based insurance coverage, which may adversely affect our ability to commercialize our products. As noted above, in the U.S., we plan to have various programs to help patients afford our products, including patient assistance programs and co-pay coupon programs for eligible patients. More specifically, patients can enroll into MY VYVGART Path, a patient support program that provides personalized support from a nurse case manager and committed support team. In addition to providing support on questions on the treatment and on navigating the insurance process, the program provides a VYVGART Co-pay Program to eligible patients, aids in referring patients to charitable foundations that may be able to help with out-of-pocket costs and informs patients of financial assistance programs that may be available.
The containment of healthcare costs also has become a priority of U.S. federal, state and international governments and the prices of pharmaceuticals have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the U.S. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. We cannot be sure that reimbursement will be available for any future product candidate that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, the level of reimbursement. In addition, many pharmaceutical manufacturers must calculate and report certain price reporting metrics to the government, such as average sales price and best price. Penalties may apply in some cases when such metrics are not submitted accurately and timely. Further, these prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit our potential revenue from the sale of any products for which we may obtain approval. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more of our products for which we or our collaborators receive marketing approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future. Obtaining and maintaining reimbursement status is time-consuming and costly.
In the EU, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies (so called health technology assessments) in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the EU provides options for its Member States to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU Member States may approve a specific price for a product or may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other Member States allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the EU have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the EU. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU Member States and parallel trade (arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced Member States) can further reduce prices. Special pricing and reimbursement rules may apply to orphan drugs. Inclusion of orphan drugs in reimbursement systems tend to focus on the medical usefulness, need, quality and economic benefits to patients and the healthcare system as for any drug. Acceptance of any medicinal product for reimbursement may come with cost, use and often volume restrictions, which again can vary by country. In addition, results-based rules of reimbursement may apply. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products, if approved in those countries. Historically, products launched in the EU do not follow price structures of the U.S. and generally prices tend to be significantly lower.
Outside the U.S., international operations are generally subject to extensive governmental price controls and other market regulations, and we believe the increasing emphasis on cost-containment initiatives in Europe, Canada and other countries has and will continue to put pressure on the pricing and usage of our product candidates. In many countries, the prices of medical products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for medical products but monitor and control company profits. Additional foreign price controls or other changes in pricing regulation could restrict the amount that we are able to charge for our product candidates. Accordingly, in markets outside the U.S., the reimbursement for our products may be reduced compared with the U.S. and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenue and profits.
The delivery of healthcare in the EU, including the establishment and operation of health services and the pricing and reimbursement of medicines, is almost exclusively a matter for national, rather than EU, law and policy. National governments and health service providers have different priorities and approaches to the delivery of healthcare and the pricing and reimbursement of products in that context. In general, however, the healthcare budgetary constraints in most EU Member States have resulted in restrictions on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines by relevant health service providers. Coupled with ever-increasing EU and national regulatory burdens on those wishing to develop and market products, this could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to commercialize any products for which we obtain marketing approval.