Methods of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in the Evaluation of New Antipsychotics: Implications for Schizophrenia Treatment

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Because health care payers are increasingly interested in learning whether new treatments offer value for money, there has been an abundance of research into the cost-effectiveness of pharmacologic therapies in the United States. In the past few years, a number of studies comparing the cost-effectiveness of the conventional neuroleptics with that of the atypical antipsychotics have been published. Cost-effectiveness analyses show the relationship between the resources used (costs) and the health benefits achieved (effects) for a health or medical intervention compared with an alternative strategy. Ideally, the analyses can help decision makers improve the health of the population by better allocating society’s limited health care resources. However, the extent to which cost-effectiveness data are actually used in decision making is unclear. The analyses are sometimes viewed with skepticism, in part because studies differ in their methodological approaches. Recently, the U.S. Panel on Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine offered recommendations for standard methodological practices, which may help improve the quality of studies and the acceptability of the approach in the future. The issue is particularly important in light of new legislation governing how the Food and Drug Administration will regulate promotional claims made by drug companies regarding health economic information.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 3):9-14