Researchers uncover stud farm funded by medical industry

image: Feng Xie, professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University
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Credit: McMaster University

Hamilton, ON (June 22, 2022) – Medical industry sponsorship of economic evaluations on new treatments is more likely to be deemed “cost-effective” than independent research on a range of diseases,

The study’s lead author, Feng Xie, a researcher at McMaster University, said cost-effectiveness analyzes (CEAs) are used to set prices and decide whether new treatments or devices will be covered by health policies. ‘insurance.

New drugs and technologies covered by insurance plans can be much more cost-effective than those not covered, which can lead to bias in ACEs funded by pharmaceutical companies or other companies in the medical industry.

His research team gleaned their data by analyzing the results of more than 8,000 ACEs published between 1976 and March 2021. Nearly 30% of those ACEs were industry-sponsored.

“Our provincial and national health care programs require a business case to set prices for new drugs or devices, as well as to support their coverage policies,” said Xie, a professor in the Department of Methods, Evidence and Research. impact of McMaster’s health research.

Xie said this is a critical issue for low- and middle-income countries, which often cannot conduct their own CEAs and must instead rely on already published studies which may have an industry bias.

“These countries could end up paying more than they are supposed to pay for new drugs or medical technologies. Unbiased ACEs are especially important to them,” Xie said.

“We should only use CEAs conducted by independent bodies in full transparency to set the new drug price and support insurance coverage policy. This is important to ensure the accessibility and sustainability of our health systems. .

In an editorial published in The BMJexperts are calling for better reporting of results, increased transparency, open-source cost-benefit models and more independent studies, to reduce decision-makers’ reliance on potentially biased ACEs.

Industry sponsorship of ACEs was defined by Xie as analysis fully or partially funded by pharmaceutical, medical device, or biotechnology companies.

Eligible ACEs were those that indicated additional cost-effectiveness using quality-adjusted life years or QALYs, a ‘value for money’ measure of years lived in good health.

Xie’s findings were published in The BMJ.

No external funding was received for this study.

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