“Current policies surrounding drug reimbursement don’t account for the most cutting-edge treatments. I look forward to a future in which we can not only help advance these innovations, but also support patient access.” — Stephanie Bartner, Sanofi
As a federal reimbursement and public policy research analyst at Sanofi, Stephanie Bartner works to develop answers to a crucial question in the American health care system: “How do we pay for innovative medicines?”
Today’s new era of medicine has seen the launch of novel treatments that can cure conditions such as hepatitis C, along with cell and gene therapies, which often target rare diseases. However, the current U.S. payment structure is not keeping up with these new, highly advanced treatment options, leading to access challenges for patients.
“When I started at Sanofi, the U.S. health care system experienced a huge spike in innovation, and we saw cures for hepatitis C and new immunotherapies being approved, along with cell therapies like CAR-T,” Stephanie says. “But even though you can look around and see all these innovations, right now we’re struggling with patient access to these drugs. That has to change.”
Stephanie works to tackle these challenges by studying innovative and flexible ways to pay for new medicines. Additionally, Stephanie helps explore ways to address regulatory and legal barriers that currently limit value-based payment arrangements.
The Driving Force
Stephanie’s journey into health care is deeply personal. At just eight years old, her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer—a battle she ultimately lost despite going through the appropriate treatments at the time.
In recent years, cervical cancer survival rates have improved due to better screenings and vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus, a known cause of cervical cancer. However, in some cases, patients struggle to access the right level of treatment, which motivated Stephanie’s interest in the field of health care.
“There is still a huge need,” Stephanie says. “That’s where I see my work in policy come into play. The right policies can help educate women about the vaccines and screenings necessary to prevent something like cervical cancer.”
Challenges and Looking Ahead
Stephanie recently attended the Aspen Ideas Festival, where participants discussed the future of the health care system, including potential ways to pay for new medicines. As a person who has been thoroughly interested in science her whole life, Stephanie said she appreciated the sense of shared commitment to tackling these challenges in a straightforward, collaborative way.
“Aspen is special because even though the people who attend represent different underlying objectives and organizations, there is one common goal in the end,” she says. “Everyone is committed to improving public health and health care.”
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