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

Being International: More Than A Question Of Geography?

Michael Drummond PhD, 2006-2007 ISPOR President and Professor of Health Economics, University of York, York, UK

Like many professional societies, ISPOR has the term 'international' in its name. Of course, this says a lot about the society's aspirations. However, what does being international really mean and how well is the society doing?

A major indicator of how international the society has become is the composition, by region, of its membership. Figure 1 shows that this has changed markedly since 2000. Even this does not give the whole picture, as ISPOR has established local chapters in more than 15 countries. These offer individuals the opportunity to become associated with ISPOR without bearing the costs of becoming a full member.

The other main indicator that ISPOR is becoming a truly international society is the growth in international meetings. With the Annual International Meeting being held in North America, the Society has held an annual congress in Europe every year since 1998. So far, 8 countries have been visited, with 3 new ones (Ireland, Greece, and the Czech Republic) hosting our meeting in the next 4 years. Since 2003, the society has also held biannual conferences in the Asia-Pacific region, with plans as far ahead as 2012. Finally, there are plans for the first Latin American regional meeting in 2007. If this is successful, more meetings in that region may follow, also on a biannual cycle.

Therefore, if we judge merely by geography, ISPOR is certainly becoming increasingly international.

However, is there more to becoming a truly international society? Of course, it is important to increase the voice and representation of members from regions where pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research is emerging. Four years ago, one position on the Board was allocated to a member from Asia and there are plans to broaden the representation further, to include members from Central/Eastern Europe and Latin America.

In addition, it is important that the Society is responsive to the issues and concerns of members from all regions. To this end the Board has approved an International Fellowship program, to enable more individuals from emerging regions to travel to, and participate in, ISPOR international meetings. Also, funds have been set aside to allow local chapters to apply for financial support from ISPOR for their local meetings. The idea is to enable local chapters to invite speakers from outside their region, or to offer courses that are currently only available to those individuals able to travel to our International Meetings and/or Congresses.


So where is this all heading? In an ideal world, more of us would think more broadly about the contribution of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research, beyond the constraints imposed by the health care system in which we happen to operate. Therefore, it would be possible to draw on examples of good and bad practice from a wide range of jurisdictions, with a view to identifying the best way forward in our own setting. If we could begin to think more internationally about the key issues facing healthcare and the contribution that the sub-disciplines of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research can make, we would be well on the way towards reaping the benefits of being an international society.



  1. Tarn TY, Smith MD. Pharmacoeconomic guidelines around the world. ISPOR CONNECTIONS 2004;10:4-5.

  2. Hjelmgren J, Berggren F, Andersson F. Health economic guidelines - similarities, differences and some implications. Value Health 2001;4:225-50.

  3. Sculpher MJ, Drummond MF. Analysis sans frontières: can we ever make economic evaluations generalisable across jurisdictions? Pharmacoeconomics 2006;24:1087-100.

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