Coronavirus Disease 2019: Considerations for Health Technology Assessment From the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics Review Group
It is expected that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will leave large deficits in the budgets of many jurisdictions. Funding for other treatments, in particular new treatments, may become more constrained than previously expected. Therefore, a robust health technology assessment (HTA) system is vital. Many clinical trials carried out during the pandemic may have been temporarily halted, while others may have had to change their protocols. Even trials that continue as normal may experience external changes as other aspects of the healthcare service may not be available to the patients in the trial, or the patients themselves may contract COVID-19. Consequently, many limitations are likely to arise in the provision of robust HTAs, which could have profound consequences on the availability of new treatments. Therefore, the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics Review Group wishes to discuss these issues and make recommendations for applicants submitting to HTA agencies, in ample time for these HTAs to be prepared and assessed. We discuss how the pandemic may affect the estimation of the treatment effect, costs, life-years, utilities, discontinuation rates, and methods of evidence synthesis and extrapolation. In particular, we note that trials conducted during the pandemic will be subject to a higher degree of uncertainty than before. It is vital that applicants clearly identify any parameters that may be affected by the pandemic. These parameters will require considerably more scenario and sensitivity analyses to account for this increase in uncertainty.