- The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a U.S. research group best known for its work reviewing the cost effectiveness of new drugs, said it plans to broaden the scope of its investigations after receiving nearly $14 million in new funding.
- ICER will now review the clinical value and cost of all newly approved drugs in the U.S. rather its past practices of analyzing only certain therapeutic classes or new treatment types. The expanded work will be supported by a three-year, $13.9 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF).
- ICER's often critical assessments of drug prices have brought the non-profit into conflict with drugmakers, which charge the group uses a misleading methodology to assess value. Yet, as debate over rising costs continues, ICER has become a looked-to voice.
ICER has previously reviewed treatments for multiple sclerosis, high cholesterol, cancer and other high-profile diseases, drawing the ire of pharmaceutical companies for routinely arguing drugs are priced too high.
In the past, a number of drugmakers and industry groups have gone after the institute directly, attacking its approach to assessing value and claiming the it is beholden to insurers. ICER has pushed back on these charges, but did take steps to update its assessment framework.
There are signs, though, that ICER has become an important contributor in the debate over how to decide whether a drug is worth the cost. In June, for example, the Department of Veterans Affairs in-house pharmacy benefit manager announced it would use the institute's drug assessment reports as part of its drug evaluations.
"Previous funding from LJAF has allowed ICER to lead a national discussion about prescription drug pricing, and pharmaceutical companies are now beginning to reference ICER’s value-based benchmarks when launching new treatments in the U.S.," said ICER head Steven D. Pearson in a Oct. 31 statement.
"However, prices for the majority of medicines still do not reflect the clinical benefit they deliver."
In addition to reviewing more drugs, ICER plans to issue a new annual report on drug price increases that it says will help identify "unjustified price increases." Drugmakers should take note.