Harvard Pilgrim inks asthma drug contract

BY Matt Pilon

Harvard Pilgrim, which has been selling group policies in Connecticut since 2014, said Wednesday that it has signed an outcomes-based agreement with drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Under the terms, the not-for-profit health insurer will cover the asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Symbicort.

If patient symptoms, including those that require medical intervention, are in line with those observed in a previous clinical trial, Harvard Pilgrim will pay AstraZeneca a higher reimbursement. If they are not in line with those results, the reimbursement will be lower, the insurer said.

Harvard Pilgrim has now signed three such contracts with AstraZeneca in the past two years, and a number of deals with other drugmakers. Another, which was announced early this year, is related to a gene therapy treatment, Luxturna, developed by Spark Therapeutics to treat inherited forms of blindness.

"We believe that outcomes and value-based contracts are one way to begin to address the need for greater focus on value in our health system," Dr. Michael Sherman, Harvard's chief medical officer, said in a statement.