Jean Paul Gagnon
A•P•O•R President 1996 - 1997

"It was a very good year!"
published in A•P•O•R News, Vol. 3, No. 3, May-June 1997

 Without a doubt this was a stellar year for the Association of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (A•P•O•R). I have had the honor of serving as president and will review with you the growth that has occurred over this past year and present the people responsible for the success of A•P•O•R. In addition, I will discuss the issues facing the discipline and will conclude with an important announcement.

A•P•O•R has grown from its 35 founders in 1995 to 600 members in 1996 to now over 1200 members in 1997. The growth of A•P•O•R reflects the growth of the discipline of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes assessment. The number of research articles, primers and conferences in pharmacoeconomics and outcomes assessment have increased from previous years. The number of pharmacoeconomic healthcare practitioners actively involved in pharmacoeconomic and outcomes assessment have also increased. The number of pharmaceutical companies, universities, managed care organizations, and integrated delivery systems with departments in health care economic and outcomes assessment have also grown.

However, the discipline is still in flux with regard to methodologies and how the information generated is used by decision makers. Moreover, there is little evidence that decision makers are using the information generated by our members to make decisions regarding products, devices or services. Review papers indicate that the quality of published pharmacoeconomic studies is not as good as it could be when compared to existing pharmacoeconomic guidelines. While disconcerting, these observations are what you might expect from a young and emerging discipline that is building a theoretical base for its work.

There is a need within the discipline to focus on a number of key issues over the next few years that will overcome some of these problems. The key issues that seem pertinent include: 1) examining the link between economic and outcomes evaluation and decision making, 2) addressing methodological issues, e.g. which comparators to use, modeling, costing, uncertainty analysis, incorporating QALYs in cost effective analysis, and others, 3) developing a consensus on research guidelines which can be used to initiate respectable pharmacoeconomic and outcomes research, 4) initiating education and training programs for researchers and users, 5) evaluating the outcomes or cost effectiveness of our outcomes and cost effectiveness studies, and 5) improving the quality of our research publications.

During the coming years the association's members should concentrate on: 1) conducting solid research studies that address customer needs and wants and 2) developing good research and interpretive skills. The association in turn must listen to the members and address their needs by constructing programs and seminars that enhance the quality and quantity of economic and outcomes research initiatives. The A•P•O•R Second Annual International Meeting focused on these goals.

At the first general session health care decision-makers presented discussions on what they use to make decisions on the adoption of a new medical technology. The second general session addressed theoretical issues in health care decision making, the third general session focused on using Bayesian statistics in health care decision making, and in the last general session Uwe Reinhardt discussed the future directions of economic evaluations in health care. In addition, participants were exposed to contributed sessions on original research studies, applied workshops for tools and techniques, and an exhibit area comprised of suppliers focusing on the needs in economic and outcomes evaluations.

A number of individuals have been involved in growing the association and making this meeting a success. I'd like to recognize the Association's Board members: Renee J. Goldberg Arnold, Alan Bakst, Robert S. Epstein, Steven F. Finder, and Joel W. Hay. Other individuals who have contributed to the success of A•P•O•R are the chairpersons of the A•P•O•R committees are: 1) Awards - Jeffrey Trotter, 2) By-Laws - Robert Bigelow, 3) Communications - James Smeeding, 4) Consensus Development - Steven Finder, 5) Education - Renee J. Goldberg Arnold, 6) External Affairs - Karl Matuszewski, 7) Fellowship - Nelda Johnson, 8) Membership - Sara Beis, 9) Nominations - William McGhan, 10) Annual Meeting Programming - Newell McElwee, and 11) Strategic Planning - James Smeeding. Finally, it is very appropriate to recognize the individuals from A•P•O•R's staff who include Executive Director - Marilyn Dix Smith, the Manager of Member Services - Natalie Palyvoda, and the Director of Meetings - Jennifer Olson for their extraordinary efforts in organizing and managing our annual meeting and managing the association.

As we grow, we must look to the future and develop alliances with other organizations with similar interests to further the discipline in clinical, economic, and quality of life outcomes assessment. Toward this end, over the last six months representatives from the A•P•O•R and the International Society of the Economic Evaluation of Medicines (ISEEM) have been in discussion concerning the consolidation of both organizations. I am pleased to announce at this time that the two organizations will merge their activities to create a new stronger association involved in the economic and outcomes evaluation of pharmaceuticals, devices and other medically related products and services. We welcome ISEEM members to the new organization. Together we will attain a new level of success.

Messages from the ISPOR Presidents