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Oncology drug health technology assessment recommendations: Canadian versus UK experiences

Authors Chabot I, Rocchi A

Received 16 April 2014

Accepted for publication 19 May 2014

Published 16 July 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 357—367


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Isabelle Chabot,1 Angela Rocchi2

1EvAccess, Vaudreuil, QC, Canada; 2Athena Research, Burlington, ON, Canada

Background: Canada has two health technology assessment (HTA) agencies responsible for oncology drug funding recommendations: the Institut National d’Excellence en Santé et Services Sociaux (INESSS) for the province of Québec and the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review for the rest of Canada. The objective of the research was to review and compare the recommendations of these two agencies alongside an international comparator – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom – with respect to their recommendations records and the influence of clinical and cost-effectiveness evidence on the recommendations.
Methods: Recommendations were identified from the three agencies from January 1, 2002 to June 1, 2013. Recommendations were limited to five cancer sites (lung, breast, colon, kidney, blood) and to metastatic/advanced settings. Descriptive analyses examined the frequency of positive recommendations and factors related to a positive recommendation. For each recommendation, only publicly available information posted on the agency website was used to abstract data.
Results: There was a wide variation in the rate of positive recommendations, ranging from 48% for NICE to 95% for Canada’s national process (among the 74% of its recommendations that were publicly posted). Interagency agreement was low, with full agreement for only six of the 14 drugs commonly reviewed by all three agencies. Evidence of a survival gain was not necessary for a positive recommendation; progression-free survival was acceptable. Different approaches were taken when addressing unacceptable cost-effectiveness. NICE was most likely to yield a negative recommendation on these grounds, whereas Canada’s national process was most likely to yield a positive recommendation with a required pricing arrangement.
Conclusion: In this analysis, the primary reason for the observed divergence between agency recommendations appeared to be the availability of mechanisms in each jurisdiction to address cost-effectiveness subsequent to the HTA assessment process. Furthermore, caution is needed when interpreting cross-agency comparisons between HTA agencies, as recommendations may not correspond directly to subsequent funding decisions and actual patient access. This may be a concern, given the high international profile of assessments conducted by the reviewed HTA agencies.

Keywords: reimbursement, decision-making, oncology, health technology assessment, funding decisions, metastatic/advanced cancer

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