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European HTA network could help ease financial crisis, says Dalli

European Commissioner for health and consumer policy highlights role of EUnetHTA project

European Commission EC John Dalli

Greater European cooperation on health technology assessment (HTA) could be a long-term solution to the region's financial crisis, according to the European Commission's (EC) John Dalli.

Speaking last month Dalli, who has EC responsibility for health and consumer policy, said a common approach to HTA would help Europe's healthcare industries and patients.

“As governments across Europe introduce cost containment measures we have to identify long-term solutions,” he told the General Assembly of the European Coordination Committee of the Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry (COCIR).

“Co-operation on health technology assessment offers such a possibility. HTA is a well-functioning tool to identify which health technologies to introduce and which to phase out. Sharing safety, effectiveness and costs analyses will help health managers and politicians make better informed choices.

The EC has just launched a consultation on stakeholder involvement in its planned HTA network, known as EUnetHTA (European network for Health Technology Assessment).

Dalli used his speech to COCIR to highlight the benefits EUnetHTA could bring to both patients and industry.

“Next year, we will give this co-operation a permanent structure, the network of HTA agencies. This will contribute to establishing more common approaches to assessing new health technologies, thereby bringing more transparency and predictability to European healthcare industries and patients.”

The EC's consultation will run until August 1, 2012 and is open to contributions from a wide range of stakeholders, including patient groups, pharma and med devices companies, industry associations and government-appointed HTA bodies.

Although the network's activities have yet to be finalised, proposals under consideration could see it cover:

  • Governance of the HTA network (rules of procedure, work plan) 
  • Guideline development for assessing different categories of health technologies 
  • Rapid assessments of pharmaceuticals for pricing/reimbursement purposes 
  • Rapid assessments of medical devices for uptake/pricing/reimbursement purposes 
  • Assessments of other/complex/multiple health technologies 
  • Scientific advice during the development phase to healthcare product producers.

The European Union-funded EUnetHTA project began in 2006 and it is currently working towards a “sustainable, permanent collaboration for HTA in Europe”.

It involves 34 government-appointed organisations from the EU Member States, Accession Countries and the European Economic Area, working together to help develop “reliable, timely, transparent and transferable information to contribute to HTAs in European countries”.

4th May 2012

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