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Harvard Pilgrim and AstraZeneca sign contract that charges less if Symbicort doesn't work as it should

The deal marks Harvard Pilgrim's third such contract aligning medication payments to real-world performance with patients.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has entered into its third outcomes-based pharmaceutical contract tying what it pays for drugs to how well the patient does on the medicine. 

In its most recent agreement, the Boston-based not-for-profit insurer has signed an outcomes-based contract for Symbicort, AstraZeneca's drug to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Harvard Pilgrim will be monitoring whether asthma-related symptoms for patients on Symbicort are in line with the clinical trial results provided by AstraZeneca. 

If the occurrence of worsening symptoms or exacerbations requiring medical intervention exceed predetermined thresholds based on data from clinical trials, AstraZeneca will charge Harvard Pilgrim a lower amount.

This is the third outcomes-based contract in the last two years for Harvard Pilgrim and AstraZeneca and the first in a series of value-based contracts that has the goal of tying payment for drugs to health outcomes.

"We believe that outcomes and value-based contracts are one way to begin to address the need for greater focus on value in our health system" said Harvard Pilgrim Chief Medical Officer Michael Sherman, MD. "By entering into this agreement, AstraZeneca is making progress in moving from charging for medications based on their value to the patient rather than solely on the volume sold."

Symbicort reduces inflammation in the body and relaxes muscles in the airways to improve breathing.         

"With innovative, value-based agreements now in place across our therapeutic areas, AstraZeneca recognizes the importance of a greater focus on value and shared accountability for patient outcomes," said Rick Suarez, VP, Market Access, AstraZeneca US.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com