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Pharmacoeconomics. 2012 Oct 1;30(10):859-68. doi: 10.2165/11597730-000000000-00000.

Private manufacturers' thresholds to invest in comparative effectiveness trials.

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Department of Health Services and Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program (PORPP), University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7660, USA.


The recent rush of enthusiasm for public investment in comparative effectiveness research (CER) in the US has focussed attention on these public investments. However, little attention has been given to how changing public investment in CER may affect private manufacturers' incentives for CER, which has long been a major source of CER. In this work, based on a simple revenue maximizing economic framework, we generate predictions on thresholds to invest in CER for a private manufacturer that compares its own product to a competitor's product in head-to-head trials. Our analysis shows that private incentives to invest in CER are determined by how the results of CER may affect the price and quantity of the product sold and the duration over which resulting changes in revenue would accrue, given the time required to complete CER and the time from the completion of CER to the time of patent expiration. We highlight the result that private incentives may often be less than public incentives to invest in CER and may even be negative if the likelihood of adverse findings is sufficient. We find that these incentives imply a number of predictions about patterns of CER and how they will be affected by changes in public financing of CER and CER methods. For example, these incentives imply that incumbent patent holders may be less likely to invest in CER than entrants and that public investments in CER may crowd out similar private investments. In contrast, newer designs and methods for CER, such as Bayesian adaptive trials, which can reduce ex post risk of unfavourable results and shorten the time for the production of CER, may increase the expected benefits of CER and may tend to increase private investment in CER as long as the costs of such innovative designs are not excessive. Bayesian approaches to design also naturally highlight the dynamic aspects of CER, allowing less expensive initial studies to guide decisions about future investments and thereby encouraging greater initial investments in CER. However, whether the potential effects we highlight of public funding of CER and of Bayesian approaches to trial design actually produce changes in private investment in CER remains an empirical question.

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