What is VentureWise and what is its relationship to NPS MedicineWise?
Late last year the NPS MedicineWise Board resolved to establish a commercial subsidiary as a small start-up to look for opportunities to diversify funding sources and support the organisation’s financial sustainability. Set up and announced earlier this year, VentureWise is wholly owned, independently run, and has the mandate to explore commercial opportunities with a broader range of paying customers, including the pharmaceutical sector, health service providers and health insurers. It was established to leverage the expertise across the MedicineWise Group to work with new customers and in different markets.
All of its activities remain consistent with the mission of NPS MedicineWise to help people make the best decisions about medicines and other health choices.
NPS MedicineWise is a not-for-profit. Why do you need a commercial subsidiary?
NPS MedicineWise is an independent, not-for-profit, non-government organisation. The majority of our funding comes from contracts we hold with the Australian Government Department of Health but we also receive funding from other government and non-government customers.
The nature of our funding means that we focus our efforts in specific areas in order to deliver on the requirements of each contract. In reality this means we cannot always work in areas where we know we can make a positive difference for health professionals and consumers, and to facilitate this we need to secure alternate funding or fund it ourselves.
Establishing a small start-up subsidiary allows us to leverage our capabilities with new markets and new customers. In this way we can generate income to be reinvested in our work, to enhance our ability to deliver on our mission. It does not compromise our not-for-profit status , but rather is designed to contribute to the ongoing sustainability of our organisation.
Why did NPS MedicineWise accept funding from a pharmaceutical company for a MedicineInsight project?
To date only one project funded by a pharmaceutical company has been approved by the Independent Data Governance Group. It determined that the project is aligned with the aims of MedicineInsight to improve quality, healthcare and patient safety, and the ethos of using the data for public good.
What has been funded by the pharmaceutical industry?
To date, two projects in total have been funded by pharmaceutical companies. A summary of these is below.
1. Educational program ‘Managing COPD: stepping up treatment’
Funded by GSK through an independent medical education grant
Program aim: To address quality use of medicines issues related to pharmacological treatment via inhalers of patients diagnosed with stable COPD.
Program summary: Structured around the Australian COPD-X guideline, this program addressed a number of quality use of medicines issues, including stepwise medicine management, confusion about different inhaler devices and correct use, and avoiding double dosing from using multiple devices containing the same medicine class.
Scope: Around 200 practices will have a small group case-based meeting. This involves review of case studies, and participants are provided with a summary of the COPD-X guideline and summary of inhaled medicines for COPD developed by NPS MedicineWise.
Priority: NPS MedicineWise will roll out a comprehensive national COPD program related to our Department of Health contract in 2017. This program will build on the quality use of medicines issues identified by the current program, but with the addition of consideration of the place of spirometry in the diagnosis and assessment of COPD. It will be delivered Australia-wide and will be further supported by online learning tools, publications and resources.
2. MedicineInsight research project: Assessing the management of renal toxicity in primary care associated with Stribild
Project aim: To assess the management of renal toxicity in primary care associated with Stribild to support the medicine’s risk management plan. (Stribild tablets contain 300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate / 200 mg emtricitabine / 150 mg elvitegravir / 150 mg cobicistat)
Program summary: To assess whether prescribers are managing the renal toxicity risks associated with Stribild appropriately through analysis of MedicineInsight data. Participating practices who specialise in HIV medicine were approached and consented to take part in the project and join the MedicineInsight program if they weren’t already involved. No payments were made to practices, and the funder was disclosed.
Scope: Limited to consenting practices with a specialised focus on HIV management.
Priority: MedicineInsight has potential to assess the effectiveness of risk management plan activities required by the TGA. The Independent Data Governance Group determined this project was an opportunity to demonstrate this and provide insight into how significant risks associated with a particular medicine were being managed in practice.
Is more work planned with pharmaceutical companies?
We are in discussions about potential projects for the future. We will only accept work that complies with our principles (including independence and full editorial control); enables us to address priority areas of unmet need; and aligns with our mission to enable the best decisions and medicines, health technologies and other health choices.
The pharmaceutical sector is a partner to Australia’s National Medicines Policy and has a responsibility to support quality, safe and effective use of medicines. As we are all aware there are longstanding and valid concerns about how the pharmaceutical sector has approached this responsibility, and the clear conflicts of interest that arise between education and marketing activities. Providing funding via independent medical education grants is a positive step in the right direction, and shows parts of the pharmaceutical sector are responding to community concerns and looking for appropriate ways to support access to high quality and independent education.