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MAbs. 2012 Mar-Apr;4(2):281-8. doi: 10.4161/mabs.4.2.18812. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

The cost-effectiveness of biopharmaceuticals: a look at the evidence.

Author information

  • 1Center for the Study of Drug Development; Tufts University School of Medicine; Boston, MA USA.
  • 2Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health; Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies; Tufts Medical Center; Boston, MA USA.


Due to the increasing availability and costs of biopharmaceuticals, policymakers are questioning whether they provide good value relative to other health interventions and many are increasingly relying on cost-utility analyses (CUAs) to supplement decision-making. Analyzing data from the Tufts Medical Center Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry, this study critically reviewed the cost-utility literature for biopharmaceuticals and compared their value to other health interventions. Of 2,383 studies in the registry, biopharmaceutical CUAs comprised the sixth largest category of interventions at 11%. Characteristics of biopharmaceutical articles were similar to other CUAs; however, they displayed slightly better quality. The median cost-effectiveness ratio of biopharmaceuticals was less favorable (i.e., higher) than other interventions though many seem to provide value for money. A logistic regression showed that among biopharmaceuticals the cost-effectiveness of industry-sponsored studies and products that treat infectious diseases were significantly more likely to be favorable (less than the overall median), while cancer and neurological treatments were significantly less likely.


biopharmaceuticals; cost-effectiveness; cost-utility analysis; economic analysis; quality adjusted life-year; value for money

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