Health authority representatives, Academia, policy-makers and health experts from across the Gulf are getting together this weekend to discuss the assessment of medicines, to ensure government funds are spent wisely at a time when the region is experiencing rising prevalence of chronic diseases and aging populations, which are putting additional pressures on healthcare budgets
The 2nd Health Care Summit, being held in Dubai, will focus on international best practices from the US and EU in the evaluation of medications, in a bid to arm GCC health authorities with the necessary tools to make more informed decisions on healthcare budget allocation, while at the same time delivering high quality healthcare and access to the latest medicines.
Delegates from government health bodies in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran will discuss with international health economics experts how to assess the effectiveness of drugs in relation to a range of economic factors, including patients’ quality of life, patient satisfaction, length of hospital stay, physician visits and time away from work.
“Medication is a very important part of the healthcare system. Countries are spending a lot of money on making medicines available for their people, and the UAE is no exception,” said Dr. Mohammed Abuelkhair, Head of Pharmacy, Medicine and Medical Products Regulation, Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD).
“The money spent on drugs affects the whole economy of the country. When deciding on a medicine, the following factors should be taken in consideration; safety, effectiveness, quality, accessibility and affordability. A wise government is one that ensures all these factors are enshrined in the medicines which are available in its country, and this is HAAD’s approach in the management of the drug’s formulary and the Daman list. Considering one factor without the others may lead to more harm and more cost on the country,” added Dr. Abuelkhair.
The summit will highlight the growing global use of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) in evaluating the value of individual medications which involves examining the medical, social, ethical, and economic implications of development and use.
HTAs are a key part of health service budgeting in more developed healthcare systems, such as in the US and Europe, where they are widely used to decide which new products are allowed onto government drug formularies.
“These types of wider economic assessments of new products consider not just the price of the technology, but also the broader benefit and cost of decreased adverse events and better outcomes,” said Professor Dr. Diana Brixner, Chair of the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Executive Director of the Outcomes Research Center, University of Utah College of Pharmacy, USA.
“In the absence of such assessments governments, which are looking to spend more wisely on healthcare, may simply ban the use of newer, higher cost treatments to the detriment of patient care,” added Professor Brixner, one of the international speakers presenting at the summit.
“The HTA model allows healthcare managers to look at the impact individual medications have on the quality of patients’ lives and the wider economy, which allows for more informed decisions to be made on the allocation of healthcare budgets,” she said.
More than 100 delegates are expected to attend the Health Care Summit on May 7, which is being facilitated by Novartis – a company that specialises in innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products.
Delegate Dr. Fatima Al Braiki, Director of Registration and Drug Control Department, UAE Ministry of Health, said, “The main aim of the UAE Ministry of Health is to regulate medicines and ensure that all medications available in the UAE are of a high quality and efficacy, as well as being affordable, so we can optimise public health. This summit will help to share the experiences and views of experts and partners in the region.”
“From the Health Care Summit, HAAD hopes to learn more about the effective methodologies in pharmaco-economics, as well as the cost-effectiveness of drugs, the policies of other countries in medicine pricing, and the successful strategies followed by other governments. HAAD also hopes to share information and feed-back from the industry and other stakeholders about HAAD’s policies in dealing with medicines,” added Dr. Abuelkhair.