Managed care pharmacists are in an ideal position to be catalysts in clinical drug trials. They can help end a conflicting situation that finds managed care organizations (MCOs) unwilling to participate in trials that would give them the information they demand.
More MCOs and their pharmacists should be involved in clinical drug trials and outcomes research, said William Stigelman Jr., Pharm.D., v.p., affiliate site relations, Collaborative Clinical Research Inc., a clinical development firm based in Cleveland. Speaking at the recent annual meeting of the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs in Scottsdale, Ariz., he said pharmaceutical manufacturers are beginning to face higher research and development costs and longer wait times for approvals because of the growing dominance of MCOs, which generally do not participate in such research. Pharmaceutical companies are aware that more health-care dollars are controlled by MCOs and that having such major players on the sidelines "will have a negative impact on the cost of new drugs," he added.
Out of approximately 475 MCOs, only 55 had any level of research interest, capability, or infrastructure in 1995, said Stigelman. About half of the 55 ordinarily do not participate in drug company-sponsored projects. "The managed care research paradox is that they are looking for efficacy and safety data beyond what is required by the Food & Drug Administration," he said. …