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Creating Value and Sustainable Access to Medicine in Today’s Health Care System

By Kate Silver

Reposted with permission from POLITICO. Click here to read the full Q&A.

In the U.S., patients have faster access to innovative medicines than in other countries. However, complexity in the U.S. health care system, particularly in the drug supply chain and increasing cost-sharing requirements, can mean that some U.S. consumers face high out-of-pocket cost for their medications.

This can have concrete impacts: The Commonwealth Fund finds that up to one fifth of older adults report skipping a dose or not filling a prescription due to this burden. Treatment affordability is just one aspect of access. Added to this are the disparities in care that were exposed through the COVID-19 pandemic, with many communities of color experiencing unequal access to care and heightened risk factors for certain diseases. With health equity and sustainability becoming even more of a pressing concern across the U.S., there is a need to explore new ways of making medicines affordable and accessible to the patients who need them most.

Takeda, a global, 240-year-old biopharmaceutical company, has been working to address these challenges. Ramona Sequeira, president of Takeda’s U.S. business unit and global portfolio commercialization and member of Takeda’s global executive team, says that even the best medicines in the world can’t help patients if they’re unable to afford or access them.

“I believe it’s possible to create a more equitable, humane and sustainable future where we can continue to discover the cures of tomorrow and ensure patients can get the full benefit of our industry’s transformative treatments. Our top priority at Takeda is to ensure patients have access to the treatments they need. As out-of-pocket prescription drug costs rise there is a direct impact on patients’ ability to take their medicines, which can result in negative health outcomes and higher overall health care costs,” says Sequeira.

Takeda has focused their research and development efforts on transformative treatments targeting  the highest unmet needs for patients.  These efforts span diseases that affect many thousands of patients to those that affect very small, rare disease communities.  “No matter the size of the patient population, the impact on an individual and their family is significant; we’re always looking for ways to evolve and better serve patients,” says Sequeira. 

In the U.S., a fee-for-service payment model, which attaches a price tag to each health care service (for example, a dose of medication costs X; a doctor’s office visit costs Y; a lab test costs Z), is customary; but that system doesn’t take into account the impact or effectiveness of treatments. Takeda believes in the promise of a more real-world, “outcome-based” approach to pricing that focuses on affordability, access and the impact on the patients’ health.

POLITICO Focus connected with Sequeira to discuss how Takeda is working to make medicines more affordable and accessible, reduce health disparities and improve the patient experience and overall health — all while building trust in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Read more here