EPHA defines HTA as the systematic, broad-ranging evaluation of using technologies within a particular health system. “Whereas regulators conduct risk-benefit assessments into the safety and accuracy of a technology and its claims, HTA bodies compare the ‘relative effectiveness’, synthesising the scientific evidence whilst also taking account of the social, ethical and economic impact of a technology’s use”, says EPHA. The tool is used by a number of countries to make decisions about pricing and reimbursement and is therefore intrinsically connected to discussions about health reforms, adds EPHA.
HTA evaluations vary Europe-wide. But because of increasing patient mobility these variances need to be ironed out. EPHA notes there are special circumstances surrounding rare diseases and HTA, and rare diseases are a category in need of particular attention at European level.
For the foreseeable future, EPHA does not expect there to emerge a pan-European HTA. Nonetheless, EPHA does expect there to be more unanimity on the methods by which HTA is undertaken and the decision-making processes by which evidence is assessed. Greater transparency of HTA information should help here.
On the subject of stakeholder involvement in HTA decision-making (notably public participation), EPHA notes the “Directive on patients’ rights contains a specific provision for ‘appropriate stakeholder consultations’ and, accordingly, the Commission launched a public consultation on the issue in May 2012. Even is there is more stakeholder involvement, stakeholders may have little influence over final decisions made, observes EPHA.
The EPHA briefing document usefully outlines the European Commission activities in this area.