On 20 April 2017, the Belgian Healthcare Knowledge Centre (KCE) published its proposal on horizon scanning (HS) for pharmaceuticals. The proposal forms part of the work of the “BeNeLuxA Collaboration”, a collaboration between the Belgian, Dutch, Luxembourg and Austrian governments on pharmaceutical policy, focusing on HS, health technology assessment, and pricing and reimbursement. The KCE was asked to lead a task force responsible for developing a HS methodology for medicinal products, and a possible model for a joint HS system to enhance the exchange of information and reduce duplication of resources.

The KCE recommends creating a central HS unit to perform joint HS activities. The unit could be: (i) a newly established unit within an existing agency; (ii) an expansion of an existing HS unit; or (iii) a third party commissioned and financed by the four collaborating countries. The countries agreed that the joint HS system should cover medicinal products “with a potentially high financial, clinical and/or organisational impact on the health system”, including the first biosimilar for a biologic medicine, and cellular and/or gene therapies.

The proposal indicates that the HS unit should be responsible for:

  • Identifying on the collaboration level new and emerging medicinal products.
  • Filtering on the collaboration level identified products based on scope and time horizon of the HS system.
  • Prioritising filtered products for early assessment on the national level.
  • The early assessment of prioritised products.

The proposal notes that the Belgian pharmaceutical industry association pharma.be is supportive of a collaborative HS effort, provided that the following conditions are met:

  • All company information remains confidential.
  • Participation in the HS system does not become a condition for reimbursement.
  • The HS system does not lead to a separate budget for new medicines.
  • All companies are invited to participate.

A prior version of this post was originally published by the same authors in Practical Law – Life Sciences, April 2017 Issue (Thomson Reuters).