When single-payer systems adopt innovation better than U.S. commercial payers

Guest Commentary: Single-payer systems can teach U.S. private payers a thing or two about innovation

It is a truth universally acknowledged, to borrow from Jane Austen, that a single-payer system will say “no” to new technology. If they accept it at all, they do so only when the prices are rock-bottom and the coverage restrictions draconian. But the truth is more nuanced, and calls into question the assumption that single-payer systems are innovation-phobic Scrooges, denying their country’s citizens new life-enhancing technologies available to Americans in the U.S.’s private-payer system.

The prime example of the base assumption is the U.K.’s NHS and NICE, its cost-effectiveness watchdog, turning away life-saving innovations the healthcare industry has spent billions to create and bring to patients. In January, for example, they declined to cover Vitrakvi larotrectinib, the “tumor-agnostic” NTRK inhibitor from Bayer AG (Xetra:BAYN), and more famously delayed coverage of Abraxane in pancreatic cancer for years.

However, there are examples that show this isn’t the whole story. Take the announcement at the JP Morgan Healthcare

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