The “Pharmacoeconomics” of Delivering Babies


The term “pharmacoeconomics,” which for many years defined what we prefer to refer today as health technology assessment (HTA) or economic evaluation, reminds us of the origins of the discipline, tied to pharmaceutical products. Nevertheless, when researchers had a close look at its formal definition, it was easy to notice that the methods used for pharmaceuticals could, with some relevant adjustments, be applied to most other health-related interventions. Pharmacoeconomics is defined as “the description and analysis of the costs and consequences of pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical services and their impact on individuals, healthcare systems, and society.”
The same original role could be attributed to randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which might have predated HTA, but in a similar way evolved through the research on efficacy and safety of pharmaceuticals. As Bothwell and Podolsky show in their historical review of RCTs, the British Medical Research Council’s article on streptomycin for the treatment of tuberculosis published in 1948 was far from being the first RCT. The importance of these experimental designs is essential in the approval process of new pharmaceuticals or in the formulation of clinical practice guidelines.


Diego Rosselli

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