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ISPOR CORNER

ISPOR 11th Annual European Congress Summary

Stephen L. Priori, Director, ISPOR Publications


The ISPOR 11th Annual European Congress was held on 8-11 November 2008 at the Hilton Athens, Athens, Greece setting another ISPOR record with more than 1900 in attendance.

Uwe Siebert MD, MPH, MSc, ScD, Professor of Public Health, University of Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall/Innsbruck, Austria, and John Yfantopoulos PhD, Professor of Health Economics, University of Athens and President of the National Centre for Social Research, Athens, Greece, served as the Congress co-chairs providing attendees with a high-level scientific program.

Sunday 9 November

After the pre-Congress Short Courses Saturday and Sunday morning, and the opening Poster Session, the 11th European Congress opened with 2008-2009 ISPOR President Chris Pashos PhD, welcomed attendees to Greece while John Yfantopoulos and Uwe Siebert introduced the Congress's objectives. The First Plenary Session “Health Technology Assessment (HTA) in Europe - Is Harmonization Possible?,” moderated by Siebert, featured three speakers: Alric Rüther MD, PhD, Head, Department of Quality of Health Care, Institute for Quality and


(l-r): 11th European Congress Co-Chair, John Yfantopoulos PhD,
2008-2009 ISPOR President Chris L. Pashos PhD,
11th European Congress Co-Chair, Uwe Siebert MPH, MSc
Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), Cologne, Germany, contended that harmonization of methods is possible, but not the processes, leading to the need for exchange and communication between HTA agencies.Louise Longworth PhD, Senior Research Fellow, School of Health & Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, discussed HTA from the UK perspective, in which harmonization can be examined from underlying principles and processes, appraisal framework or of methods of assessment. The plenary concluded with Finn Boerlum Kristensen MD, PhD, Director & Professor, Danish Centre for Health Technology Assessment, National Board of Health, Copenhagen, Denmark; Adjunct Professor, University of Southern Denmark; Project Leader, European Network for HTA (EUnetHTA), making the case that European collaboration on HTA adds value by leading to more timely, high quality input to health care policy in member states, the EU and other countries.

Podium Sessions I & II were held on Sunday afternoon followed by the conclusion of Poster Session I with its Exhibitors Open House Reception Sunday evening. The ISPOR Central & Eastern European Chapters presented their forum Sunday evening as well.

Monday 10 November

The Second Plenary Session, moderated by John Yfantopoulos, “Improving Equity of Access to Pharmaceutical Therapies in Europe, Middle East & Africa,” offered attendees discussion in three areas: Health Care Equity Issues In Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. Oleg Borisenko MD, Executive Director, Russian Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, Moscow, Russia, stated the need to establish reference prices, a unified list of essential medicines - the financing priority,, a reimbursement distribution for all populations; federal financing for rare, and expensive drugs, and other patient delivery logistics. Professor Pavel Vorobyev MD, PhD, Professor, Head, Department of Hematology and Geriatrics, Moscow Medical Academy, Moscow, Russia and President ISPOR Russia Chapter, addressed follow-up questions from the audience. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Abbadi PhD, MBA, Assistant Professor, University of Jordan, Faculty of Pharmacy, Amman, Jordan and President ISPOR Jordan Chapter summarized the need to develop an effective pharmaceutical sector as part of strengthened health system, to ensure good governance in the health and pharmaceutical sector, to strengthen the national regulatory authority, to improve the availability, improved pricing and limitation to generic drugs in public sector procurement, as well as price reductions in the private sector; and finally to rationalize the tax regime and mark-up on medicines. Tienie Stander MBChB, MBA, Honorary Professor, North West University, School of Pharmacy, Johannesburg, South Africa and President, ISPOR South Africa Chapter concluded with the external sources involved in health care reform (sector wide approach), tax and debt relief; mandatory health care insurance (SHI and NHI); private voluntary insurance (community-based health insurance), out-of-pocket payments (fee removal), as well as pharmaceutical reform, that involves Africa's burden of disease, global R&D, the cost of new technology drugs, the African Union response (SADC response, regulatory authority harmonization, and clinical research manufacturing), and finally a South African response.

After the Monday morning plenary, the second of three poster sessions opened followed by Contributed Podium Sessions III & IV, and the first of three Issue Panels sessions and four workshop sessions.

Monday evening ISPOR's attendees dined and danced at this year's Social Event at the Yacht Club of Greece. Guests enjoyed mingling inside & the spectacular views of Athens, Phaleron Bay, the Saronic Gulf and the islands of Salamis, Aegina and Poros outside.

Tuesday 11 November

For the first time, the 11th European Congress's final day was a full day of sessions. The Third Plenary and the third poster session differentiated it from years past. Following the morning ISPOR Special Interest Group and Task Force Forums, Milton Weinstein PhD, Professor Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA moderated a lively Third Plenary Session, “Can We Agree on International Guidelines for Economic Evaluation of Health Care Interventions?,” The three topics for discussion were: “Is The Estimation Of Incremental Cost Per QALY the Answer?” with Michael Drummond PhD, Professor of Health Economics, Centre for Health Economics, University of York, Heslington, York, UK, speaking on the threshold, maximum willingness-topay, It may be 'kinked' as it passes though the origin, reflecting individuals' greater reluctance to give up current benefits and the health care field's relatively few innovations in this quadrant. “Is Efficiency Frontier Approach the Answer?” was the response and discussion from J. Jaime Caro MD, Senior Vice President of Health Economics, United BioSource Corporation, Concord MA, USA, who summarized multi-dimensionality is unavoidable. Real decision-makers prefer to be informed in full rather than be faced only with an aggregate measure. An aggregate measure necessarily conceals relevant details & implications, while multiple EF plots can be made and provide information to decision-makers. Uwe Siebert concluded with, “Why Can't We Work Together?” offering the suggestion that health economists apply both the cost/QALY approach and the EF approach to investigate particular implications of the two methods.

Contributed Poster and Exhibits Session III, Issues Panel Session III, Workshop Sessions III & IV, followed the lively Third Plenary session. This European Congress displayed more than 900 posters, presented 76 podium presentations, 10 Issue Panels, 28 Work Shops, and 6 Forums. With nearly 2000 attendees, and another entertaining social event, it was truly a memorable congress.

ISPOR will gather again on May 16-20, 2009 in sunny Orlando, FL, USA for the ISPOR 14th Annual International Meeting. We hope to see you there and thank you for joining us in Athens as the Gods were pleased!


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