Michael Barry MD, PhD, FRCPI, and Clinical Director
National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
2009-2010 ISPOR President

I was delighted to welcome over 2,300 attendees to the ISPOR 15th Annual International Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. This was a record attendance for the ISPOR international meetings. I would like to thank the ISPOR 15th Annual International Meeting Program Committee Chair Professor Dan Malone, and all his co-chairs for compiling such an exciting meeting. Despite the many challenges–not least the global fiscal situation–ISPOR continues to prosper. We now have over 5,300 active members from over 90 countries worldwide. This figure increases to over 8,700 when we include over 40 ISPOR Regional Chapters (Figure 1). This year, we added ten new regional chapters including Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Upstate New York, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Saudi Arabia, Korea, China-Beijing, Singapore and Indonesia. The greatest proportion of our members come from the USA (42%) closely followed by Europe (40%) with Asia-Pacific, Africa, Russia accounting for 11%, Canada 4% and Latin America 3% (Figure 2). The future looks bright, particularly when we consider that we now have 45 ISPOR Student Chapters and over 670 student members. At the Atlanta meeting, ISPOR students had 228 research presentations.

The past 12 months saw many changes, some of which I recall here: one of the most important related to our journal Value in Health, where Josephine Mauskopf completed her term as Editor-in-Chief, a position she held from 2002 to 2010. It was a real pleasure to present an ISPOR Distinguished Service award to Josephine at the Atlanta meeting and to acknowledge her outstanding contribution to ISPOR over the years. When Josephine was appointed Editor-in-Chief in 2002 the number of submissions to Value in Health was approximately 80. This figure exceeded 380 in 2009. The search for Josephine’s successor(s) was a challenge for the Society, but I think all of us will feel the journal is in good hands with the appointment of Co-Editors-in-Chief Professors Michael Drummond and C. Daniel Mullins. We wish Mike and Dan all the very best during their 4-year tenure from 2010 to 2014.

There were five ISPOR Task Forces who published their reports in Value in Health during my term, representing tremendous work from many ISPOR members.The ISPOR Task Force Reports related to a wide range of topics including the transferability of economic evaluations across jurisdictions, issues in relation to patient reported outcome measures, multinational trials, good research practices for comparative effectiveness research and the measurement of drug costs in cost-effectiveness research.

There were many interesting presentations at the ISPOR 15th Annual International Meeting, including topics on personalised medicine, performance based risk sharing agreements and Bayesian and adaptive approaches. A presentation that generated much debate was the Second Plenary Session on the topic “Is Health Outcomes Research Valuable to Real Decision Makers: A Candid Discussion with Medical and Pharmacy Directors” We were promised a candid discussion and for those of us who attended, it is fair to say there was a full and frank exchange of views! Dr. Albert Rizzoli’s (Medical Director, Presbyterian Health Plan, Albuquerque, NM, USA) presentation indicated that health outcomes research was ‘an attempt by industry-largely pharma-to justify the astronomical cost of their latest product’ and the use of quality of life data was nothing more than a measure ‘to lay a guilt trip on managed care’. Dr. Rizolli advised that health outcomes research was something best left to academic institutions and what decision makers in the USA really needed was a ‘federal agency modelled after NICE’. Strong words, which were echoed by Dr. Kenneth Schaecher, Medical Director, Select Health, Salt Lake City, UT, USA, who observed that in health outcomes research ‘the usual endpoints are rarely pertinent’ and that some decision makers ‘rarely focus on quality of life’. At the same plenary session, John Watkins, Pharmacy Manager, Formulary Development, Premera Blue Cross and Clinical Associate, Professor of Pharmacy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA provided a balance to the proceedings and suggested decision makers may be ‘sceptical but not cynical’. I was minded of the words of one of Ireland’s leading writers Oscar Wilde who defined a cynic as “a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing” whereas “scepticism is the beginning of faith.” In any event, the task for ISPOR in reaching out to decision makers remains an important one.I wish to end with a ‘thank you’ to you, the ISPOR membership, for affording me the marvellous opportunity to serve as ISPOR President. It has been a great honour for me and I shall always be grateful. I’d like to thank to my fellow ISPOR Board of Directors members for their support throughout my term. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to all the ISPOR team and to Founding Executive Director Marilyn Dix Smith for putting up with me for all of this past year! As we say in Irish ‘go raibh mile maith agaibh’, a thousand thanks to you all.

Messages from the ISPOR Presidents