ECRI Institute Projects Possible $80 Billion Annual Spend on New Drug and Device Therapies

New analysis of U.S. Healthcare Horizon Scanning System estimates significant costs for small set of novel drugs, health devices, and procedures

Dec 02, 2015, 12:18 ET from ECRI Institute

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to a new report by ECRI Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to researching the best approaches to patient care, spending on a select group of new and novel drug and device therapies may exceed $80 billion in the near future if they all make it to market.

The data comes from a cost-analysis pilot project for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) during which ECRI Institute analyzed the high costs of 47 of the 700 novel healthcare interventions that are being tracked in the U.S. Healthcare Horizon Scanning System and have potential for high impact.

Hypothetically, if all the technologies were implemented in a 1-year timeframe, the Institute determined that the U.S. healthcare system could potentially spend between $46.2 billion and $82.8 billion. These interventions, many of which are not yet available for clinical care, will add to the current debates over the affordability of healthcare.

Of the 47 drug therapy, device, and procedural interventions ECRI researched, 11 had an estimated annual spend of more than $1 billion each, while 16 others had an annual estimated spend of $250 million to $1 billion each. The remaining 20 interventions each had an estimated 1-year spend of $500,000 to $250 million.

"These healthcare technology innovations provide new options for treating conditions with high complication and mortality rates such as heart failure, diabetes, or cancer," says ECRI Institute's Karen Schoelles, MD, SM, FACP, project director for the AHRQ Healthcare Horizon Scanning System.

A better understanding of genetics and increased emphasis on finding treatments for rare diseases has led to many targeted therapies, for example. However, the costs of new interventions like these may not be affordable because they often cost at least $100,000 per patient per year, or per therapy course.

Other interventions in development or newly emerging into clinical care that were estimated to cost more than $1 billion each per year included transcatheter mitral valve repair for mitral regurgitation and percutaneous left atrial appendage occlusion devices for preventing A-fib-related stroke, among others.

"The selected technologies and interventions examined in this project represent only about 6% of the 700 technologies we are tracking in horizon scanning that may enter clinical care in the next few years," says Diane C. Robertson, director, ECRI Institute health technology assessment information service, and project manager of the AHRQ Healthcare Horizon Scanning System.

Pharmaceuticals constitute about 75% of the topics being actively tracked in the horizon scanning system; devices constitute about 19%. Download the free report, "Report of a Pilot Project: Rapid Cost Analyses of Selected Potential High-Impact Intervention Reports."

The range of interventions identified in the study spanned broad clinical areas including cancer, cardiopulmonary disease, infectious disease, mental illness, functional disability and limitations, and obesity.

ECRI Institute was selected by AHRQ to develop the Healthcare Horizon Scanning System in 2010, and continues to publish new content from the system several times a year. The Healthcare Horizon Scanning System is an early alerting system and strategic planning tool that identifies novel drugs, devices, and procedures in development that are intended to address important healthcare needs.

For questions about the report or the Healthcare Horizon Scanning System, please contact ECRI Institute by telephone at (610) 825-6000, ext. 5440; by e-mail at; by fax at (610) 834-1275; or by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1298, USA.

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About ECRI Institute
ECRI Institute (, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for nearly 50 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO is listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Find ECRI Institute on Facebook ( and on Twitter (

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