Patient Experience Data Approach to Medication Value Earns PhRMA Award

Dr. Surachat Ngorsuraches headshot graphic

July 11, 2019

AUBURN, Alabama – Seeking a way to determine value of medications, Dr. Surachat Ngorsuraches, associate professor in the Harrison School of Pharmacy’s Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy, recently proposed a patient experience data approach that placed third in the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation’s Challenge Awards.

“The PhRMA Foundation has supported this challenge for a couple of years and this is very critical because it could be the paradigm shift of value assessment of drugs in the United States,” said Ngorsuraches. “It will give patients opportunities to access their preferred medicines at the affordable prices, while still supporting innovation.”

Titled “Using Patient Experience Data and Discrete Choice Experiment to Assess Values of Drugs,” his proposal included a Patient Experience Value Method that facilitates the incorporation of patient-derived attributes of value based on FDA protocol and discrete choice experiments and addresses heterogeneity of patient preferences by capturing and reporting the full distributions of patient values.

“I proposed an approach that combines methodologically-sound patient experience data and discrete choice experiment (DCE) to assess the value of drugs,” said Ngorsuraches. “It is a patient-centered approach that includes multiple drug attributes and addresses the heterogeneity of patient preferences.”

He says the approach is not intended to replace existing value assessments based on the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) metric, but to complement them in the unique structure of the United States health care system.

“The United States health care system is unique due to multiple payers and they may need a variety of assessment approaches to address their perspectives on the value of drugs,” Ngorsuraches.

With the rising cost of health care in the United States, value-based studies present an opportunity to identify low-value or inefficient areas of care and determine new and transformative approaches to care that reflect patient preferences and real-world practices.

“Value-based care is a major opportunity for the United States healthcare system to battle high expenditures,” said Ngorsuraches. “The principle is we should value or pay for health outcomes that matter to patients. Drug expenditure is an important component of healthcare expenditure. Similarly, the idea is we should value or pay for drugs that provide great benefits to patients.”

Currently, the value assessment of drugs is based on cost per QALY, an approach that has various limitations since it is a single approach metric and does not capture what patients value or an assortment of patient preferences.

“Preference heterogeneity is important because different patients may value different attributes of the same drugs,” said Ngorsuraches. “For instance, a patient like a multiple sclerosis treatment with low side effect while another patient may care about the treatment that reduces his or her relapse rate more. Therefore, if a treatment has bad side effect, but can reduce relapse rate more, the second patient would value it more. Either that patient or his payer maybe willing to pay more for that treatment.

“On the other hand, if a treatment has low side effect, but can reduce only little relapse rate, the first patient would value this treatment more than the second patient does. So, health economists are seeking for novel ideas that can assess value of drugs.”

Ngorsuraches believes this new idea should be patient-centered in nature and capture patient preference heterogeneity as well.

The Challenge Awards, first offered to researchers in 2017, are part of the PhRMA Foundation’s multifaceted Value Assessment Initiative, which supports a variety of research and innovation projects to support the shift to a value-based health care system.


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy

Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. The School’s commitment to world-class scholarship and interdisciplinary research speaks to Auburn’s overarching Carnegie R1 designation that places Auburn among the top 100 doctoral research universities in the nation. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit

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Last Updated: June 24, 2019