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The Official News & Technical Journal Of The International Society For Pharmacoeconomics And Outcomes Research

ISPOR - Across Europe, Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Chris L. Pashos PhD, 2008-2009 ISPOR President and Vice Pres & Executive Director of HERQuLES, Abt Bio-Pharma Solutions, Inc., Lexington, MA, USA

About 51,807 English words are said to be of Greek origin. I can vouch for two of them:

  • Pharmacy comes from “Pharmakeion”, related to medicines, and
  • Economics comes from “Oikonomia”, the study of the production, use and outcomes of goods and services.

Put them together, we have Pharmacoeconomics, the study of the use and outcomes of medicines.

Aristotle may not have had a need to evaluate medicines among his musings on economics 2,500 years ago in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. But in early November 2008, more than 1,900 of us, from 58 nations around the world, gathered in Athens just about 3 kilometers from the Acropolis for ISPOR's 11th Annual European Congress.

Further south and further east than any of our Society's previous ten European Congresses, this event opened a window for all of us on the need for and the use of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research throughout the breadth of Europe - south as well as north, east as well as west. Indeed the ambitious program created by our meeting chairs, Professors John Yfantopoulos PhD and Uwe Siebert MD, MPH, MSc, ScD, and their planning committee highlighted current and future needs and advances beyond Europe to the Middle East and to Africa.

In the week before the Congress, an important milestone had been reached as countries of the Mediterranean littoral came together to further formalize the new Mediterranean Union. Many of these countries were represented in the ISPOR European Congress. Also, many participants attended from the Balkan nations as well as other countries of Eastern Europe.

The Congress reflected well what ISPOR has become - a global voice focused on advancing the science and expanding the use of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research to serve the public health. Providing access to appropriate health care is a challenge that confronts all the world's countries. Pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research offer critical input to help our societies worldwide to understand the burden of disease and give us the tools to help allocate resources so as to optimize access to appropriate health care, and thereby promote the public health.

ISPOR recognizes the continued geographic expansion and growth of our field, and is doing its best to reach out to members wherever they live and work. Global outreach is a key part of our mission to support the growth of our field with a variety of programs that focus on methods development, education, and communication.

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

Some have a few members; some have many. The biggest chapter by far is the Russian Society for Pharmaco-Economics and Outcomes Research, with more than 600 members. Pavel Vorobyev MD, PhD has presided over this successful society. At the Congress in Athens, the Russian chapter led by Dr. Vorobyev presented on multiple issues including access, equity, and quality of care, with data from many geographic regions of Russia.

The meeting in Athens was the first European Congress to be held in a country with a local chapter. In Greece, leadership in our field has been provided by the Hellenic Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (HELSPOR), founded in 1998. Special vision has been provided over the years by its leaders, including John Yfantopoulos PhD, Professor of Health Economics and Social Policy at the University of Athens, and co-chair of the 11th European Congress. The current President is Mary Geitona PhD of the University of Thessaly.

We thank these leaders and all the leaders of our local chapters, for all they have done and continue to do to support pharmacoeconomics in their countries, and - by participating in international task forces, meetings and other activities - to support its growth around the world.

Each of our local chapters was created by individuals who recognized the importance of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research, had the vision to nurture and expand it, and acted on that vision. When one looks at the local chapters, it is heartening to see the spirit of collaboration between academic leaders, government officials, health care providers, leaders of medical technology companies, and commercial researchers.

The leaders of the local chapters have brought together these constituencies to better understand the nature of the challenges faced by their respective countries, to try to bridge their different perspectives, and ultimately to achieve better national outcomes. Sharp debate and disagreement may result, but only out of discussion and interaction can meaningful progress result in moving our field forward.

As was evident at the 11th European Congress, we do not work in isolation, whether by research specialty, work environment or geographic region. We neither are, nor should be, isolated in silos. Instead we are all interlocking and interdependent pieces of a single dynamic. The difficulties faced by our countries - worldwide - are too severe to dismiss the efforts of any one part of who we are, whether we define ourselves by our country of origin, or our chief analytical concern (policy, clinical outcomes, costs, patient-reported outcomes), or our work environment. It is incumbent on us to reach out to those who look at the issues with different perspectives.

Only by bridging those perspectives will our own countries be better able to overcome the challenges we face with respect to providing access to appropriate health care to optimize societal outcomes. I respectfully suggest that we have an obligation to reach out to different constituencies, to share with and to learn from each other. The 11th European Congress provided us with one such opportunity.

As members of the preeminent Society focused across the breadth of health care outcomes - clinical, economic and patient-reported, I invite you to take advantage of the opportunities provided by ISPOR to share and interact with your colleagues from around the world. As importantly, I invite you to work within your organizations, sharing this knowledge and understanding, so that together we can conscientiously continue to expand the science and application of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research.

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