Value in Health
June 2011, Vol. 14, No. 4
Health Policy Analysis
Pharmaceutical Priority Setting and the Use of Health Economic Evaluations: A Systematic Literature Review
Factors that seem to support the increased use of health economic evaluations are well-developed frameworks for evaluations, the presence of health economic skills, and an explicit priority setting process.
To investigate which factors and criteria are used in priority setting of pharmaceuticals, in what contexts health economic evaluations are used, and barriers to the use of health economic evaluations at micro, meso, and macro health-care levels.
The search for empirical articles was based on the MeSH index (Medical Substance Heading), including the search terms “economic evaluation,” “cost-effectiveness analysis,” “cost-utility analysis,” “cost-benefit analysis,” “pharmacoeconomic,” AND “drug cost(s),” AND “eligibility determination,” AND “decision-making,” AND “rationing,” AND formulary. The following databases were searched: PubMed, EconLit, Cochrane, Web of Science, CINAHL, and PsycINFO. More than 3100 studies were identified, 31 of which were included in this review.
The use of health economic evaluations at all three health-care levels was investigated in three countries (United States [US], United Kingdom [UK], and Sweden). Postal and telephone survey methods dominated (n = 17) followed by interviews (n = 13), document analysis (n = 10), and observations of group deliberations (n = 9). The cost-effectiveness criterion was most important at the macro level. A number of contextual uses of health economic evaluations were identified, including importantly the legitimizing of decisions, structuring the priority-setting process, and requesting additional budgets to finance expensive pharmaceuticals.
Factors that seem to support the increased use of health economic evaluations are well-developed frameworks for evaluations, the presence of health economic skills, and an explicit priority-setting process. Differences in how economic evaluations are used at macro, meso, and micro levels are attributed to differences in the preconditions at each level.