Washington, DC (July 13, 2011) - A new report on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) processes published today highlights 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 study, jointly commissioned by EFPIA, EuropaBio, Medicines Australia and PhRMA, compares the HTA processes and outputs against best practice principles.
In particular the report shows that the link between assessments and access decisions could be improved. One of the crucial roles of HTA is to improve access to innovative treatments and medicines. However, the report found little evidence that current HTA processes make a difference in terms of speeding up access to medicines for patients or that HTA resulted in better rewards for medicines with higher therapeutic value. Recommendations from HTA bodies are not always implemented by pricing and reimbursement authorities, and the overall link between HTA and pricing and reimbursement is still unclear in many cases. Recommendations on the same products also vary greatly between systems and countries. While individual HTA bodies may have different remits and objectives, the variation in how the same products are evaluated suggests inefficiencies and inconsistencies linked with diverging methodologies and data requirements.
The report also shows that many systems could improve their performance towards a holistic approach to assessments. 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 has the potential to assist patients and health practitioners in making informed decisions, in practice, societal aspects are not well taken into account and patients have a limited role in several HTA systems. The report also shows that HTA is mostly applied to pharmaceuticals, and that methods applied to other technologies are less stringent.
However, the report suggests that there are reasons to be optimistic, given that most HTA systems are still in development or are evolving. The report sets the foundation for a regular exercise, which will receive continuous support from the four trade associations. Such regular exercise has the potential to allow consistent assessments of the impact of HTA to be efficiently 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-centered healthcare systems.