How Private and Public Health Sectors Can Work Together

How Private and Public Health Sectors Can Work Together

By Lan Duan

For many years, the objectives between pharmaceuticals and public health sectors have not been aligned. After all, developing drugs is ultimately a business for pharmaceutical companies; however, public health professionals aim to achieve an overall health equity regardless of household income. In this highly regulated industry, the gap between two sectors has distanced them from collaborating. If the collaboration is to happen, then we need to start focusing on aligning goals to bridge the gap.

From a drug company’s perspective, if you have invested 10 years of 200 scientists’ life and $2.6 billion for one drug, your goal is to have a sizeable return on investment. However, when your business involves quality of life, the question becomes more complex than a sheer return on investment. In a recent article, the question about healthcare’s heavily regulated industry and the distance between startups involvement due to the implication of life and death choices, is discussed.

The U.S. governmental agencies came up with the “Quality-Adjusted Life Year” – QALY concept that might be one way to help pharma and public health find its balance and hopefully compromise to each other’s goal a little to achieve the collaboration. Also, the trendy concept of Health Economics and Outcome Research is showing that the major players in health care system are leaning more towards to, fortunately enough, public health side – because people are forced to answer questions including what are the values of a drug – how much social benefits and patient outcome would be able to achieve through product development. The value-based pricing strategy will change the landscape over time and through continuous efforts.

Besides developing policy and enforcing values into pricing for drugs, promoting innovation in either health care delivery system itself or life science products is an important component for the potential collaboration. How government regulatory agencies and each related department facilitate product development process, cut research and development costs and time, while maintaining quality assurance should not be ignored. Ultimately, $2.6 billion development cost will eventually place a financial burden on every individual later on.

The root of the difficulty in combing these two worlds is that we are unwilling to and hopefully would never have to place a price tag on human life as every life is precious; however, we wouldn’t be able to for now! There are still questions remained to be answered and challenges to be tackled to achieve the final handshake. But, it does look tangible in the near future.

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