A systematic review of pharmacoeconomic guidelines

<p><b>Objective:</b> To review, summarize, and analyze both similarities and differences of pharmacoeconomic (PE) guidelines, to enable researchers to access their characteristics and the current state of PE guidelines; furthermore, to learn which methodological issues still remain contested and to promote the methodological development of PE guidelines.</p> <p><b>Materials and methods:</b> The authors performed a search for PE guidelines using PubMed, the Cochrane library database, and the websites of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research. Information of each guideline was extracted using a pre-designed extraction template, which included 22 aspects; the guidelines were summarized in the forms of charts, and their characteristics have been described.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> A total of 40 PE guidelines were studied. The most common methodological issues include the types of analysis, sources for effectiveness, use of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) to measure outcomes, and use of incremental cost effectiveness ratios to present results. The majority of the guidelines preferred a cost utility analysis with outcomes expressed in terms of QALYs. Most of the guidelines preferred meta-analysis or meta-analysis of the randomized controlled trials, and required a systematic review of all evidence. Issues that varied most in the guidelines were the choice of the comparator, recommended costs to be included, methods related to indirect cost calculations, methods of sensitivity analysis, and discounting rate.</p> <p><b>Conclusion:</b> A comparison of these guidelines revealed that a number of differences exist among them in several key aspects, and some critical methodological issues still exist, for which no best solution is available. Furthermore, efforts need to be made to develop harmonious methods for the PE, and to improve the transferability of the outcomes of PE evaluations.</p>