A Healthcare Pilgrim's Progress


  • Peter Pitts President, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest




Progress is both a noun (forward or onward movement toward a destination) and a verb (to move forward or onward in space or time). Innovation is a noun (the action or process of innovating). They aren’t synonyms. When it comes to the future of healthcare, which is more important? Innovation enables change that maintains an ecosystem. Progress changes the ecosystem. Many new biopharmaceuticals and medical devices are innovative. They can improve both quality of care and quality of life, but do not always represent true progress. Perhaps we need a healthcare technology continuum that considers the value of an innovation (a new molecule, a newly identified receptor, gene therapy, etc.) in the context of progress. Rather than “value-based HTA” we should be thinking about “progress-based HTA.  It’s worth repeating that the terms “innovation” and “progress” have separate and distinct meanings. They are, like many generic drugs and biologics, not interchangeable.