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Pharmacogenomics. 2013 Nov;14(15):1833-47. doi: 10.2217/pgs.13.183.

Issues surrounding the health economic evaluation of genomic technologies.

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Health Economics Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX3 7LF, UK.



Genomic interventions could enable improved disease stratification and individually tailored therapies. However, they have had a limited impact on clinical practice to date due to a lack of evidence, particularly economic evidence. This is partly because health economists are yet to reach consensus on whether existing methods are sufficient to evaluate genomic technologies. As different approaches may produce conflicting adoption decisions, clarification is urgently required. This article summarizes the methodological issues associated with conducting economic evaluations of genomic interventions.


A structured literature review was conducted to identify references that considered the methodological challenges faced when conducting economic evaluations of genomic interventions.


Methodological challenges related to the analytical approach included the choice of comparator, perspective and timeframe. Challenges in costing centered around the need to collect a broad range of costs, frequently, in a data-limited environment. Measuring outcomes is problematic as standard measures have limited applicability, however, alternative metrics (e.g., personal utility) are underdeveloped and alternative approaches (e.g., cost-benefit analysis) underused. Effectiveness data quality is weak and challenging to incorporate into standard economic analyses, while little is known about patient and clinician behavior in this context. Comprehensive value of information analyses are likely to be helpful.


Economic evaluations of genomic technologies present a particular challenge for health economists. New methods may be required to resolve these issues, but the evidence to justify alternative approaches is yet to be produced. This should be the focus of future work in this field.

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