Practical Aspects of Designing and Conducting Pharmacoeconomic Studies in Japan
The advent of simultaneous global clinical trials and drug registration strategies has increased the demand for global pharmacoeconomic strategies. Outcomes researchers in pharmaceutical companies are faced with the challenge of assessing at a strategic level what pharmacoeconomic data are most useful in Japan and when, and then deciding at a tactical level what type of study designs are feasible. This paper is written mainly for the benefit of researchers working outside of Japan in the pharmaceutical/medical device industry or academia who are interested in conducting research in Japan. We reviewed the existing pharmacoeconomic literature in Japan, and found that the number of studies per year has been steadily increasing. The majority of studies have been cost-effectiveness and cost-consequence analyses. Typical data sources available in Japan are somewhat limited compared with other Western countries. However, charge data can be easily accessed through the national uniform reimbursement fee system and these data are particularly relevant for pharmaceutical pricing negotiations with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW). The present use of pharmacoeconomic data by pharmaceutical companies is mainly for pricing negotiations but recent reforms make certain types of data useful for marketing strategies too. The demand for pharmacoeconomic data may increase because of upcoming MHLW pharmaceutical pricing and/or recent health insurance system reforms. Economic evaluation of medical technologies in Japan, though lagging behind North America, Australia and Europe, has the potential to rapidly gather momentum as increasing cost-escalation worries contribute to a growing interest in pharmacoeconomic data.
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