The value of innovative medicines: Literature review

07 mei 2024

The multiple facets of the value of innovative medicines could use some clarification. We focused on the Belgian context and the factors contributing to the overall value of innovative medicines.

  • Customer:
  • Period: July 2023 - November 2023
  • Keywords: Innovation, medicines, value, literature review

Project context, the Belgian pharmaceutical industry association, expressed a keen interest in launching a comprehensive study to elucidate the multiple facets of the value of innovative medicines. The study should specifically focus on the Belgian context and aims to gather valuable insights into a range of factors contributing to the overall value of innovative medicines in the country.

This project's objective was to present a thorough analysis of the existing academic literature and case studies that display the value of innovative medicines. would use the research findings for their internal and external communication.

The role of Hict

Hict compiled a comprehensive overview of the existing scientific evidence on the value of pharmaceutical innovation. The value of pharmaceutical innovation is reflected in diverse ways and across multiple sectors. To fully capture this broad impact, Hict developed an integrated framework that includes the different stakeholder perspectives of value and innovation (Figure 1).


Figure 1 Overview of stakeholders benefitting from pharmaceutical innovation.

This framework helped to define a search strategy to identify relevant literature sources. All identified articles were analyzed, summarized, and assembled into a report in a stepwise approach (Figure 2):

  1. Map existing recent literature: Define and implement a broad literature search strategy in scientific databases (e.g., Pubmed, Google Scholar). This broad search was complemented with a targeted literature search focused on specific disease areas of interest to
  2. Analyze identified papers: Screen retrieved articles based on their titles and abstracts. Perform a full-text analysis of the articles found to be in this analysis's scope.
  3. Develop summaries for each article: Summarize each article using a predefined template developed by Hict in collaboration with These summaries included all relevant aspects of each article.
  4. Develop a report on the value of innovative medicines: Write a comprehensive report based on the article summaries describing the study’s methodology and outlining its most important results.
Lit Review Report Pharma BE


A comprehensive report summarized the identified evidence for each value metric. The integrated value framework helped define an appropriate search strategy to holistically capture the value of pharmaceutical innovation across its distinct aspects and perspectives.

Not all facets of value are equally scrutinized in scientific literature. For instance, life expectancy has garnered more attention than health equity or caregiver impact.

There is ample evidence that supports the positive impact on life expectancy, quality of life, and disability for patients. The influence on life expectancy is particularly notable, evidenced by remarkable gains in average age at death for cancer patients, an increase in life years, a reduction in premature mortality, and enhanced survival rates in different therapeutic areas or diseases.

The economic impact of pharmaceutical innovation is significant and characterized by marked efficiency gains. A pivotal question is whether these savings balance the increased costs of innovative medicines. This literature analysis indicates a spectrum of cost compensation, from partial to complete, depending on the range of costs considered in the analyses.

While overlapping with patient-centric outcomes, public health benefits are distinctly highlighted in the context of disease prevalence reduction through vaccines. However, evidence on this specific aspect is relatively scarce.

While less extensively studied, caregiver impact emerges as a crucial aspect of pharmaceutical innovation. The limited available evidence suggests that advancements in treatments for chronic diseases alleviate caregiver burden, enhancing their quality of life.

Several studies illustrate the positive impact of new treatments on health equity, particularly for diseases disproportionately affecting lower socioeconomic groups. However, the report also acknowledges that little specific evidence was found on this aspect.

Delays between introducing innovative medicines and their measurable effects in terms of value were found across different innovation metrics. These delays can be attributed to slow uptake, limited initial access to medications, and potential inherent late effects in chronic diseases. Regardless of the reasons for the delayed effect, it is essential to convey that bringing innovation to the market alone is not enough. The utilization of the medicine is a prerequisite for experiencing its positive effects. Therefore, investing in innovation today is necessary for capturing the positive impact of tomorrow.

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