Research Published in JMCP Explores Reasons for Improvement in Patient Outcomes Over Time

For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrea Hofelich,, 202-827-2078

[June 22, 2018, Washington, DC]—A recent survey of U.S. physicians provides insight on their perceptions regarding the impact of medical innovation on outcomes among the top eight conditions in the U.S causing the greatest morbidity and mortality since 1990. The research, published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy, notes the substantial impact that biopharmaceutical innovation has had on health outcomes, particularly in the treatment of HIV, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and depression. The research was conducted by RTI Health Solutions and the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC).

According to the 136 physicians surveyed, the majority (56 percent) of improvements in health outcomes were driven by pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, with other health care services having less perceived impact: diagnostics (20 percent), surgical procedures and techniques (14 percent) or medical devices (11 percent). The results from the survey provide an important perspective in the ongoing debate over the value of medical technology innovation, and the findings “illustrate that the physician-perceived benefits provided by pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical innovations are substantial when compared to other post-diagnosis innovations,” excluding public health interventions.  

“Since 1990, we have seen significant improvements in health outcomes, most notably within HIV and other diseases that became manageable through medicines,” said David Wamble, PhD, Director of Health Economics at RTI Health Solutions and the lead author of the research. “Through this research and survey, we wanted to better understand, from physicians at the front-line of patient care, which post-diagnosis innovations contributed to improved patient outcomes. With many of the improvements and benefits attributed to innovations in pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, it’s not surprising that we are seeing an increase in the use of medicines and spending associated with such use.”

“As new innovations continue to occur, there is also a question of how well are we spending our health care dollars, and on what?” said Robert W. Dubois, MD, PhD, NPC Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer. “For some conditions, treatment protocols could call for a greater emphasis on surgery over diagnostics, or on medicines over devices, or some kind of combination. The findings of this survey suggest that we should allocate scarce health care resources based on the benefit to the patient, as well as on the physician’s feedback.”

To measure changes over time, RTI-HS utilized national-level statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease databases to identify the top chronic conditions causing the most morbidity and mortality in the United States from 1990 through 2014, the most current year available at the time of the study. The top eight conditions in descending order are ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, breast cancer, HIV, cerebrovascular disease, COPD, unipolar depression, and diabetes. A physician survey was developed for each condition to obtain physician impressions of the extent to which pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics and surgical procedures contributed to improvements in post-diagnosis mortality and morbidity outcomes over the evaluated period. The study did not include specific public health interventions. The study design and details are posted on the JMCP website.

“The need to have a conversation about health care spending is still front and center in the United States,” said Dr. Dubois. “That’s why we need to look across all health care sectors and bring all stakeholders together in dialogue.”

Earlier this year, NPC launched Going Below the Surface, a research-first initiative intended to engage stakeholders across the health care ecosystem in conversation about what’s driving health care spending in the United States and how we can spend more effectively. Visit to learn more about the initiative, and follow along with the conversation using #GoingBelowTheSurface on social media.

About the National Pharmaceutical Council

The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation's major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit and follow NPC on Twitter @npcnow.