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Report highlights areas for HTA improvement

A new report on Health Technology Assessment processes has shown improvements are needed to accelerate patients' access to new technologies and innovative medicines

A new report on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) processes has shown significant areas for improvement in order to accelerate patients' access to new technologies and innovative medicines, and to make the most of tight public budgets.

The report was commissioned by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), EuropaBio, Medicines Australia and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and analyses the HTA processes and outputs against best practice principles.

A key finding of the report was that the link between assessments and access decisions could be improved. According to the report, there was little evidence that current HTA processes actually speed up access to medicines to patients or that HTA resulted in better rewards for medicines with higher therapeutic value.

According to the research, pricing and reimbursement authorities did not always implement recommendations from HTA bodies and in many cases the overall link between HTA and pricing and reimbursement was still unclear.

Recommendations on the same products also varied greatly between systems and countries. While individual HTA bodies may have different remits and objectives, the variation in how the same products were evaluated suggested inefficiencies and inconsistencies linked with diverging methodologies and data requirements.

The report also showed that looking at the full healthcare system and associated costs for society would be more beneficial in terms of efficient allocation of resources. Even though HTA had the potential to assist patients and health practitioners in making informed decisions, in practice, societal aspects were not taken into account effectively and patients had a limited role in several HTA systems.

Despite many shortcomings, the report suggested that there were reasons to be optimistic, given that most HTA systems were still in development or evolving.

The report sets the foundation for a regular exercise, which will receive continuous support from the four trade associations. This should enable consistent assessments of the impact of HTA to be captured over time, taking into account the impact of current reforms and cross-border activities on access to innovative medicines and the move towards truly patient-centred healthcare systems.

13th July 2011

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