Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, and IHSI General Manager, Marcus C. Guardian, have formally hailed the start of a four-year contract with US-based healthcare supplier, ECRI, for the creation of the International Horizon Scanning Database.

The four-year contract was awarded based on the tender published in February 2020 and has two major outputs. First, the supplier will develop a database of upcoming pharmaceutical products. This entails the construction and maintenance of the database, as well as the harvesting and curation of open source data to continuously update and expand the information set. Second, the supplier will enable the creation of IHSI High Impact Reports. Both the database and the High Impact Reports have the potential to level the playing field for stakeholders involved in the decision-making process for the pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals, and may consequently aid potential price negotiations.

The International Horizon Scanning Initiative (IHSI) launched in 2019 with the aim of pooling resources into the large-scale collection of data on upcoming pharmaceuticals. The initiative serves as the cornerstone for future collaboration between countries on strategic planning for medicines and technologies, including pricing and reimbursement, appropriate use and the preparation for healthcare systems. The database will also function as a key prioritisation tool allowing the early identification and evaluation of promising medicines.

Speaking in Brussels, Professor Frank Vandenbroucke said: “The IHSI contract marks a significant turning point in how we prepare our healthcare systems for upcoming innovations in medicines and will allow us and all our partners to have greater predictability while simultaneously ensuring transparency and value for our constituents.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for sustainable, data-driven collaboration in healthcare and Belgium could not be prouder of helping lead this effort.”

So far, eight European countries, representing 73 million people have committed to supporting IHSI, and there is significant interest from several nations further afield. Within these eight countries, national expert bodies, collaborate to make IHSI the key vendor of open source, reliable data to support informed decision-making.

By working together, IHSI’s Member States will benefit from a pooling of expertise and resources. The IHSI database and the High Impact Reports have the potential to help members achieve fair prices and improve the availability of important medicines for more than 73 million people.

The chosen partner, ECRI, is an independent health services organisation that provides technology solutions and evidence-based guidance to healthcare decision-makers worldwide. ECRI has a track record of building high-quality healthcare information systems and has worked with government agencies, medical associations, and industry bodies since 1968. The organisation’s dedication to shaping the healthcare of tomorrow, combining an evidence-based approach with advances in data science, artificial intelligence, and technology, makes ECRI an ideal partner for IHSI.