BURLINGTON, Mass., July 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that while prescription weight-loss drugs currently lack nationwide coverage in Brazil and Mexico, the high and increasing prevalence of obesity and its associated healthcare costs are motivating openness to government coverage of certain brands. In Mexico, approximately half of surveyed physicians can access Roche's Xenical, or generic equivalents, through hospital and/or state formularies. In Brazil, recently issued government guidelines for the prevention and treatment of obesity provide a framework for incorporation of safe and effective weight-loss drugs into formularies at the state and municipal levels.
The Emerging Markets Physician & Payer Forum report entitled Obesity in Brazil and Mexico: Physician and Payer Perspectives on Prescribing Trends, Patient Access and Reimbursement Challenges Facing Current and Emerging Therapies finds that demand is high for weight-loss therapies that can demonstrate acceptable cost-benefit ratios to national and institutional health technology assessment (HTA) bodies. After COFEPRIS's withdrawal of Abbott's Reductil in Mexico, and ANVISA's withdrawal of amphetamine drugs in Brazil, up to 51 percent of surveyed physicians turn to off-label therapies, such as Nordisk's Victoza, Eli Lilly's Byetta and Janssen's Topamax, despite high out-of-pocket payments associated with these drugs.
"The shortcomings of existing drugs and the market withdrawal of amphetamine agents has spurred discussion among the government/payers, providers and industry on how to address the burgeoning costs of obesity on Latin American healthcare systems," said Decision Resources Analyst Andreia Ribeiro, Ph.D. "Payers seek more efficacious therapies and indicate that drugs with different mechanisms of action would be attractive to regulators seeking to expand the obesity treatment armamentarium. Some payers find high value in data from studies directly comparing obesity drugs, but all interviewed payers agree that studies demonstrating cost-effectiveness—a key parameter determined during HTA evaluations in Latin America—are critical to securing formulary inclusion of new drugs."
Several therapies may impact the obesity markets in Brazil and Mexico during the next few years, including Vivus' Qsymia, which appears to offer the best clinical efficacy among marketed or late-stage developmental drugs; Arena/Eisai's Belviq, which offers a more convenient delivery route and dosing schedule than thrice-daily Xenical or the injectable agents currently used off-label; and GLP-1 analogues, which will likely be first choice for (pre)diabetic obese patients. The report findings highlight key positioning attributes for weight-loss agents identified by physicians and payers that may drive Latin America formulary coverage decisions, including cardiovascular safety profile, impact on obesity-related comorbid disease and the downstream cost savings offered to these particular healthcare systems.
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