This article examines performance-based risk-sharing agreements for pharmaceuticals from a theoretical economic perspective. We position these agreements as a form of coverage with evidence development. New performance-based risk sharing could produce a more efficient market equilibrium, achieved by adjustment of the price post-launch to reflect outcomes combined with a new approach to the post-launch costs of evidence collection. For this to happen, the party best able to manage or to bear specific risks must do so. Willingness to bear risk will depend not only on ability to manage it, but on the degree of risk aversion. We identify three related frameworks that provide relevant insights: value of information, real option theory and money-back guarantees. We identify four categories of risk sharing: budget impact, price discounting, outcomes uncertainty and subgroup uncertainty.
We conclude that a value of information/real option framework is likely to be the most helpful approach for understanding the costs and benefits of risk sharing. There are a number of factors that are likely to be crucial in determining if performance-based or risk-sharing agreements are efficient and likely to become more important in the future: (i) the cost and practicality of post-launch evidence collection relative to pre-launch; (ii) the feasibility of coverage with evidence development without a pre-agreed contract as to how the evidence will be used to adjust price, revenues or use, in which uncertainty around the pay-off to additional research will reduce the incentive for the manufacturer to collect the information; (iii) the difficulty of writing and policing risk-sharing agreements; (iv) the degree of risk aversion (and therefore opportunity to trade) on the part of payers and manufacturers; and (v) the extent of transferability of data from one country setting to another to support coverage with evidence development in a risk-sharing framework.
There is no doubt that — in principle — risk sharing can provide manufacturers and payers additional real options that increase overall efficiency. Given the lack of empirical evidence on the success of schemes already agreed and on the issues we set out above, it is too early to tell if the recent surge of interest in these arrangements is likely to be a trend or only a fad.