Economic Evaluations of Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: A Critical and Systematic Review
Pearl D. Gumbs
Monique W.M. Verschuren
Aukje K. Mantel-Teeuwisse
Ardine G. de Wit
Anthonius de Boer
Olaf H. Klungel
The wide availability of economic evaluations and their increasing importance for decision making emphasises the need for economic evaluations that are methodologically sound. The aim of this review was to provide users of economic evaluations of cholesterol-lowering drugs with an insight into the quality of these evaluations. By focusing on the most relevant studies, the gap between research and policy making may be narrowed. A systematic review was conducted. All Dutch and English publications on economic evaluations of cholesterol-lowering drugs were identified by searching PubMed, the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database (CRD), the NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), the Health Technology Assessment database (HTA) and the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE). A search strategy was set up to identify the articles to be included. The quality of these articles was assessed using Drummond's checklists. The scoring was performed by at least two reviewers. When necessary, disagreement between these reviewers was decided upon in a consensus meeting. We calculated an average quality score for the included articles. The search identified 1390 articles, of which 23 were included. Most studies measured the costs per life-year gained. The overall score per study was disappointing and varied between 2.7 and 7.7, with an average of 5.5. Most studies scored high on the measurement of costs and consequences, whereas the establishment of effectiveness left room for improvement. Only two studies included a well performed incremental analysis. This study noted an increase of quality of economic evaluations over time, suggesting the value of cost-effectiveness studies for policy decisions increases over time. In general, piggy-back evaluations tended to score higher on quality and may therefore be more valuable in decision making.
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