Inconsistency Among Utility Values in Japanese Studies –Are All QALYs Created Equal?

Tochigi, Japan – To conduct cost–utility analyses (CUAs) for pharmaceuticals, substantial data are required. One part of these data contains the utility values used when calculating the quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Using utility data in clinical trials in Japan was uncommon; therefore, published literature was the main data source of eliciting utility values in CUAs.

By conducting a systematic review of published literature, researchers from the Graduate School of Pharmacy at the International University of Health and Welfare and Eisai Co., Ltd. Government Relations provided an overview of how current utility values were obtained in CUAs for pharmaceuticals in Japan, with reference to the methodological guidelines developed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, and Japan.
Japanese CUAs used utility values from various sources with different methods and a variety of instruments, such as the EuroQol 5D (EQ-5D) and the time trade-off (TTO) method. Utility values were derived from studies conducted at different locations worldwide, and only a few CUAs explained their rationale for selecting the studies for their utility values.

Dr. Shunya Ikeda, MD, DMSc, Professor of Pharmacoeconomics and Public Health at the International University of Health and Welfare in Japan, and co-author of the study said, “Our study implies that QALYs and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) might be inconsistent among current CUAs conducted in Japan. When the Japanese government introduces CUAs for reimbursement or pricing decisions, standardization of the method to obtain utility values is strongly recommended.”

The full study, “Investigation of Evidence Sources for Health-Related QOL in Cost-Utility Analysis of Pharmaceuticals in Japan” is published in Value in Health Regional Issues, Volume 3.

Value in Health Regional Issues (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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