Demonstrating value in medical innovation


George Vradenburg (left) listens as former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt discusses medical innovation.

WASHINGTON – Former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt says that a key component to medical innovation in the future will be demonstrating that new treatments provide increased value to patients – and the health care system as a whole.

“In the past if you were a medical innovator, the goal was to get FDA to approve your device or chemical. In the future, it likely will be for CMS to approve it,” Leavitt said. “That’s a major change in how we innovate.”

Leavitt spoke Wednesday at “Medical Innovation at a Crossroads: Choosing the Path Ahead” on a panel that examined whether medical innovation should be considered an investment or an expense.

While the public views it as an investment, Leavitt believes medical innovation must help bring cost efficiencies to the health care system.

“The most undeniable trend we will see in health care in the coming decade is downward pressure on reimbursements,” Leavitt said. “If that is going to occur, innovation is going to be about how we can get more out of every dollar we spend.”

AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan spoke on a similar issue in November at the London Business School Health Conference:

"If we have one central driver, it is the recognition that the fundamental strategic imperative for our industry is the need to improve the productivity of R&D investment. It must deliver on increasing the pipeline of new, differentiated medicines that will bring benefits to patients and that for which payers will want to reimburse us," he said.

Here is Leavitt talking more about what the future of innovation may look like in a limited resource environment:

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– By Tony Jewell