Industry Experts Suggest Quality Scoring System for Pharmaceuticals

In a paper published online to medRXiv, a group of academics and pharmacists argue for a new scoring system for pharmaceuticals that would incentivize drug makers to increase drug quality.

The score would be calculated by creating a ratio comparing the number of regulatory inspections of a manufacturing facility with the number of warnings and citations received. The score total would also consider adverse events and complaints from customers, as well as a chemical analysis of any problems with dosages, dissolution, contamination, and impurities. The report authors insist the calculations be conducted by independent, private entities.

“We see this as a market-driven approach,” said David Light, CEO of the pharmaceutical testing company Valisure, who was consulted by the authors. “The system is envisioned to work [like] Carfax for used cars. There are many parallels between medications and a used car – a bottle of meds that an individual receives will often have travelled thousands of miles, touched many different hands, and be a year or two old.”

The report’s authors are hopeful that the system would help payers better determine value by comparing quality scores of different products. The paper looked at the drug valsartan, a widely used blood pressure pill, as an example. The drug was previously recalled after detection of a possible carcinogen. In the report, the authors examined six versions of the drug and found that while the least expensive pill had the second-highest quality score, the highest quality pill was only 2% more expensive. Meanwhile the lowest scoring pill was 67% more expensive than the others. The authors believe their scoring system would simplify decisions comparing cost and quality.

Sources: STAT, May 26, 2020; medRxiv, May 26, 2020.