Principles of pharmacoeconomic analysis: the case of pharmacist-led interventions

Main Article Content

Keywords

Technology Assessment, Biomedical, Economics, Pharmaceutical, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Quality-Adjusted Life Years, Health Expenditures, Decision Making, Decision Trees, Treatment Outcome, Pharmaceutical Services

Abstract

In the past years, several factors such as evidence-based healthcare culture, quality-linked incentives, and patient-centered actions, associated with an important increase of financial constraints and pressures on healthcare budgets, resulted in a growing interest by policy-makers in enlarging pharmacists’ roles in care. Numerous studies have demonstrated positive therapeutic outcomes associated with pharmaceutical services in a wide array of diseases. Yet, the evidence of the economic impact of the pharmacist in decreasing total health expenditures, unnecessary care, and societal costs relies on well-performed, reliable, and transparent economic evaluations, which are scarce. Pharmacoeconomics is a branch of health economics that usually focuses on balancing the costs and benefits of an intervention towards the use of limited resources, aiming at maximizing value to patients, healthcare payers and society through data driven decision making. These decisions can be guide by a health technology assessment (HTA) process that inform governmental players about medical, social, and economic implications of development, diffusion, and use of health technologies – including clinical pharmacy interventions. This paper aims to provide an overview of the important concepts in costing in healthcare, including studies classification according to the type of analysis method (e.g. budget-impact analysis, cost-minimization analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-utility analysis), types of costs (e.g. direct, indirect and intangible costs) and outcomes (e.g. events prevented, quality adjusted life year - QALY, disability adjusted life year - DALY). Other key components of an economic evaluation such as the models’ perspective, time horizon, modelling approaches (e.g. decision trees or simulation models as the Markov model) and sensitivity analysis are also briefly covered. Finally, we discuss the methodological issues for the identification, measurement and valuation of costs and benefits of pharmacy services, and suggest some recommendations for future studies, including the use of Value of Assessment Frameworks.

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