Value Added Medicines (VAM): Everything You Need To Know 

In a world where pushing the boundaries of healthcare is more important than ever, the idea of Value Added Medicines (VAM) looks like the perfect solution, promising to make existing treatments even better and revolutionize patient care. This exciting approach has caught the eye of pharmacists and healthcare experts everywhere, setting the stage to bring improvements in the world of pharma. Let’s dive into what VAM really means, its incredible benefits, the challenges it faces, and how it’s navigating the complex world of regulations.

Value Added Medicines: what are they? 

Different products developed from known molecules can be described in various ways. According to the FDA, these kinds of innovations are usually called 505(b)(2) products, following the specific legal rule for their application. Over in Europe, it has been commonly named after “Super generics” or “Generics+,” but lately, “Value Added Medicines” has become the go-to term. 

Medicines for Europe, previously known as EGA, is an organization that represents European companies making generic, biosimilar, and value-added medicines. They define Value Added Medicines (VAMs) as medicines based on known molecules that address healthcare needs and deliver relevant improvement for patients, healthcare professionals and/or payers.  

In simple words, Value Added Medicines are all about taking existing meds and making them work better for us. Whether it’s making a drug more effective, cutting down on side effects, finding easier ways to take it, or addressing needs that haven’t been met yet, the aim is clear: to better health outcomes and maybe even save on healthcare costs. 

These improvements can be things like: 

  • Better effectiveness, safety, or easier to tolerate 
  • Improved ways of taking the medicine or making it simpler to use 
  • Opening up new uses for the medicine. 

How Do We Get There? 

Crafting Value Added Medicines is not an easy task. It involves a meticulous process of enhancing medications to deliver real, positive changes for patients. This can be achieved through various strategies: 

  • Drug reformulation, which entails altering the composition or formulation of an existing drug while preserving its active pharmaceutical ingredients. This is done to improve characteristics such as stability, bioavailability, solubility, or ease of administration. 
  • Drug repositioning, also known as drug repurposing or reprofiling, involves identifying new therapeutic uses for existing drugs that were initially developed for a different indication. 
  • Drug combination, which is the therapeutic strategy of using two or more drugs, or combining a drug with a medical device or service, to achieve a synergistic or complementary effect in treating a particular disease or condition. 

Each step of this process is focused on making tangible, positive changes for patients, whether it’s changing the drug’s formula, mixing meds for a stronger effect, or finding a whole new use for an old drug. 

Valued added medicines: Opportunities and Challenges 

Opportunities: 

  • Boosting Patient Compliance: VAM enables the creation of more accessible drug forms and administration methods, simplifying treatment adherence and improving outcomes for patient populations. 
  • Strengthening Healthcare Infrastructure: The adoption of VAM technologies promises to introduce superior treatment solutions, addressing unmet needs within the healthcare sector and alleviating systemic pressures. 
  • Driving Pharmaceutical Innovation: VAM presents an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to accelerate the R&D process, fostering the rapid introduction of groundbreaking treatments and securing a competitive edge in the market. 

Challenges: 

  • Regulatory Hurdles: The pharmaceutical sector’s innovation involves complex regulatory landscapes, requiring proof of new treatments’ safety and efficacy through extensive clinical trials. 
  • Financial Risks: High research and development costs in the pharma industry represent a significant challenge, with the need to balance these investments against potential market returns. 
  • Market Access and Adoption: Even with successful development, gaining market access and ensuring healthcare provider and patient adoption of new VAM-based treatments can be difficult, influenced by factors like pricing, insurance coverage, and awareness. 

Navigating Development and Rules 

Developing Value Added Medicines (VAM) is a complex task that demands a blend of innovation and stringent adherence to regulations. This process is not only about enhancing the existing medications but also involves a deep understanding of pharmaceutical development beyond mere replication. Regulatory bodies are gradually recognizing VAM’s importance, yet establishing a supportive framework for their safe proliferation remains challenging. It’s about striking the perfect balance between fostering innovation and ensuring safety. 

For a company specializing in value-added medicines, navigating regulatory pathways is crucial. Beyond the traditional Article 10.1 of Directive 2001/83/EC, exploring alternative pathways like 10.3 (hybrid), 10a (well-established use), and others is essential for complex developments. However, the lack of experience in these areas among most generic companies can hinder approval processes. In the US, the distinction between an ANDA and a 505(b)(2) application highlights the complexity of VAM development, underscoring the need for a tailored approach to innovation and regulatory compliance. 

Value Added Medicines (VAMs) are one of the bright spots as we strive to deliver better, more patient-centred healthcare. Despite the hurdles, the chance to improve patient care, meet unmet needs, and push the limits of what treatments can do is too good to pass up. For all of us in healthcare—whether we’re pharmacists, doctors, or any part of the healthcare team—getting involved and supporting this movement is crucial for bringing out its full potential. 

FAQs about Value Added Medicines 

1. How are Value Added Medicines different from generic drugs? 

Unlike generics that replicate original drugs, Value Added Medicines aim to step it up by enhancing how well treatments work, their safety, or making the patient’s experience better. 

2. What’s the impact on healthcare costs? 

By potentially making treatments more effective and improving how well patients stick to their plans, VAMs could help cut healthcare costs, even though they need a lot of investment to develop.  

3. What Are the Advantages of Value Added Medicines for Healthcare Providers? 

Value Added Medicines present enhanced versions of existing treatments, which can lead to improved health outcomes, easier administration, and reduced side effects. This enhancement in treatment efficiency and patient experience directly contributes to a higher quality of patient care. 

4. How can partnering with a VAM provider benefit pharmaceutical companies?

Partnering with a Value Added Medicines provider offers pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to extend the lifecycle of their products. By adding value to existing medications, companies can differentiate their offerings in a competitive market, potentially leading to increased market share and revenue. This collaboration not only enhances the company’s product portfolio but also contributes to advancing healthcare outcomes through improved treatment options.

Author

John Kytariolos

John holds a BSc, MSc, and PhD in Pharmacy specializing in Biopharmaceutics and Pharmacokinetics. For the past 11 years, he has been at the helm of the Clinical Development department...

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