Joint Industry Workshop on the Biotech and emerging technologies: HTA in context

01.12.2008

Joint Industry Workshop on the Biotech and emerging technologies: HTA in context

Introduction: Health Technology Assessment is about to become a fact of life for biotechs

Indeed, this is already the case in some countries, where rulings of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) bodies not to reimburse drugs have led to heated policy debate and controversy. Putting a price on human life is no small decision, yet that in essence is what HTA is seen to entail when its focus is on cost effectiveness of treatments. However, if it focuses on clinical effectiveness rather than cost effectiveness, it can help to inform patient-provider decision making.
 
One way or another, some form of HTA, if not already present, is likely to be in place in most countries in the future. A number of countries in Europe have HTA bodies, and Europe as a whole has gone further down the HTA path than elsewhere. In the United States, there is pressure to introduce some form of HTA as part of a wider reform of healthcare, and the concept has taken hold in Latin America. While Australia is viewed as the home of HTA, the movement is now spreading elsewhere in Asia.
 
As the challenges of bringing a therapy to market and keeping it there increase, so do the required length of time and expense, especially for biopharmaceuticals. Due to this, biotech companies often fall under the spotlight of HTA.This attention can be positive or negative. Cost-focused HTA can result in rationing and denial of access for patients to needed, life-saving treatments. However, on the flip side, because biotech treatments are often more specific, providing greater efficacy with fewer side effects, clinically-focused HTA can demonstrate the true value of biotech innovation.
 
As the biotech industry faces both the challenges and opportunities of HTA, EuropaBio and BIO co-sponsored a one day workshop to discuss HTA. The purpose of this meeting was to examine the academic underpinnings of HTA, consider the HTA models of a number of countries, and share experiences of the impact of the different ways in which HTA is being interpreted and applied.
 
- Willy de Greef, Secretary General, EuropaBio

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