Objectives: Reimbursement recommendations on (orphan) drugs are usually made at a national level and this can lead to variation in patient access to the same drug in different countries. We compared differences in patient access to ultra-orphan drugs between countries. Furthermore, we describe how reimbursed and non-reimbursed orphan drugs differ with respect to pharmacoeconomic properties. Methods: We studied patient access to eight high-priced inpatient ultra-orphan drugs in nine countries. In addition, we determined whether differences with respect to cost per patient, budget impact and cost-effectiveness existed between orphan drugs with a positive and negative reimbursement status. Results: Reimbursement status was available for 78 orphan drugs, of which 56 (72%) were positive. Large differences were observed between countries; while two countries had a positive status for two out of nine ultra-orphan drugs, four countries had positive status for all drugs it assessed. A number of drugs were reimbursed only after price negotiations and/or through specific orphan drug policies. The average cost per patient, budget impact and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were lower for ultra-orphan drugs with a positive reimbursement status than for those with a negative status, although only cost-effectiveness ratios were statistically significant. Conclusions: Large differences in patient access to ultra-orphan drugs were observed between countries. Future research should examine if similar findings can be seen in other countries and with other orphan drugs, and it should also determine which other factors play a role in reimbursement status of orphan drugs.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Patient access, Rare Diseases, Reimbursement status, Ultra-orphan drugs
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.hlpt.2017.12.001, hdl.handle.net/1765/104076
Journal Health Policy and Technology
Kanters, T.A, Redekop, W.K, & van Hakkaart-van Roijen, L. (2018). International differences in patient access to ultra-orphan drugs. Health Policy and Technology. doi:10.1016/j.hlpt.2017.12.001