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BACKGROUND: The emergence of high-priced potential cures has sparked significant health policy discussions in South Korea, where the healthcare system is funded through a single-payer National Health Insurance model. We conducted focus group interviews (FGIs) and accompanying surveys with diverse stakeholders to comprehensively understand related issues and find better solutions to the challenges brought by these technologies. METHODS: From October to November 2022, 11 FGIs were conducted with stakeholders from various sectors, including government payers, policy and clinical experts, civic and patient organisations, and the pharmaceutical industry, involving a total of 25 participants. These qualitative discussions were supplemented by online surveys to effectively capture and synthesise stakeholder perspectives. RESULTS: Affordability was identified as a critical concern by 84% of stakeholders, followed by clinical uncertainty (76%) and limited value for money (72%). Stakeholders expressed a preference for both financial-based controls and outcome-based pricing strategies to mitigate these challenges. Despite the support for outcome-based refunds, payers raised concerns about the feasibility of instalment payment models, whether linked to outcomes or not, due to the specific challenges of the Korean reimbursement system and the potential risk of 'cumulative liabilities' from ongoing payments for previously administered treatments. In addition, the FGIs highlighted the need for clear budgetary limits for drugs with high uncertainties, with mixed opinions on the creation of special silo funds (64.0% agreement). Less than half (48%) endorsed the use of external reference pricing, currently applied to such essential drugs in South Korea. A significant majority (84%), predominantly non-pharma stakeholders, advocated for addressing cost-effectiveness uncertainty through re-assessment once long-term clinical data become available. CONCLUSIONS: This study uncovers a broad agreement among stakeholders on the need for more effective value assessment methodologies for high-priced potential cures, stressing the importance of more robust and comprehensive re-assessment supported by long-term data collection, rather than primarily relying on external reference pricing. Each type of stakeholders exhibited a cautious approach to their specific uncertainties, suggesting that new funding strategies should accommodate these uncertainties with predefined guidelines and agreements prior to the initiation of managed entry agreements.

Original publication




Journal article


Cost Eff Resour Alloc

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Gene therapies, High-priced, Managed entry agreements, Potential cures