Managing Principal Paul Greenberg Publishes Editorial on the Importance of Cost-of-Illness Research

September 15, 2014

Cost-of-illness research can provide an important starting point in discussions of health care resource allocations, according to a recent editorial published by Managing Principal Paul Greenberg. Some researchers have suggested that because cost-effectiveness analysis provides policy makers with a tool that can directly affect payer decision-making, it should be a higher priority for funders than burden-of-illness research. In "Cost of Illness: An Ongoing Battle Worth Fighting" (PharmacoEconomics, September 10, 2014), Mr. Greenberg contends that "introducing the calculation of cost per quality-adjusted life-year could have the unintended consequence of shutting down rather than spurring continued discussion" for other stakeholders, including patients, prescribers, and congressional leaders.

Reflecting on his own experience undertaking a cost-of-illness study that focused on the economic burden of depression in the early 1990s, Mr. Greenberg points out that the disease carried with it an overall economic burden that was significantly higher than the direct costs of the illness. The results of this cost-of-illness study were highly cited, and the related media coverage helped to spur national dialogue and de-stigmatize this prevalent and pernicious disease. "I suspect that consideration of cost of illness (which focuses only on costs) or comparative effectiveness research (which focuses only on effectiveness) would, at times, be a more inviting point of entrée into important resource allocation discussions than would the results of a traditional cost-effectiveness analysis," Mr. Greenberg explained. "Looking forward, I see many opportunities for cost-of-illness research findings to continue to inform such conversations about healthcare resource utilization."

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