Drug attributes associated with the selection of drugs for reimbursement: a pilot stated preferences experiment with Canadian stakeholders

Abstract

Introduction: Health Technologies Assessment requires that evidence about clinical, economic, social, and organizational aspects be considered and weighted in the selection of drugs for reimbursement. We investigate how evidence is balanced by committee members in Canada, where neither explicit weighing schemes nor thresholds are provided.

Methods: Thirty-six past and present members of cancer drug appraisal committees participated in an online stated preferences experiment. The experiment included a ranking of drug attributes, a discrete choice experiment asking to vote in favor or against the funding of drugs described using five attributes, and a best–worst scaling experiment using the same drug descriptions.

Results: Respondents focused on the clinical attributes of drugs, particularly on the survival benefit relative to a comparator. As a second criterion, respondents either consider economic attributes or they consider patient relevant attributes, depending on how questions are framed. The small sample size is a limitation to generalizability.

Conclusion: Understanding how individuals involved in HTA weigh evidence is important to the development of policy guidelines for the drug selection process. Our pilot results suggest that non-clinical criteria can become marginalized in the appraisal process in the absence of clear guidelines to their use. Avenues for further research are discussed.

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