By Ruth Whittington

Remember last month’s exhortation to break the firewalls between health economics and sales and marketing?

Here is an opposing view from a prominent member of the industry, who believes those firewalls have a real value in certain situations – particularly when dealing with the managed care market in the US. His point is that managed care organisations, unlike NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and other health technology assessment (HTA) bodies, have limited resources and indeed expertise in assessing health economics and outcomes data.

In most cases they are dealing with all therapeutic areas so the niceties of methodology specific to the disease will also bypass them. Thus, they take most of the information they receive regarding budget impact, cost-effectiveness or cost-utility on trust. That trust could be hampered if the managed care decision-makers believe that the health economists producing the data are puppets of the sales and marketing teams within a company.

While this could be a real issue, scepticism is likely to exist because the data are produced by a pharmaceutical company, firewalls or no firewalls. The way to overcome it is by having as much transparency regarding the model and data sources as possible, explained in simple, clear terms and put in the context of the managed care organisation.