Randomized, controlled trials are the gold standard for regulatory approval, but they do not necessarily provide what payers want to see: evidence of benefit in the real-world setting. Sanofi's global partnership with Medco Health Solutions Inc. is the latest pharma collaboration with the reimbursement side aimed at designing trials and mining data to ensure that payers get the answers they need at product launch.

The Sanofi-Medco deal, signed in June, echoes a collaboration between AstraZeneca plc and HealthCore Inc., the outcomes research subsidiary of health benefits company WellPoint Inc. Under that February deal, HealthCore will conduct real-world studies in the U.S. to determine the value of a medicine to the total healthcare system.