How limited healthcare budgets can best be allocated at a time of skyrocketing costs is a question that dominates global public and private discourse. At the same time, expectations are high for good health, longevity, and access to innovative medicines and technologies.
In the face of this paradox, policymakers and private payor are seeking a rational approach for deciding which medicines to recommend to physicians and reimburse. Is evidence-based medicine (EBM) the answer?
Current projections indicate a near quadrupling of the population aged 60 and over by the year 2050. As the number of elderly grows and healthcare costs continue to rise, those on the front lines of healthcareproviders, patient advocacy groups, policymakers, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companiesfeel a sense of growing urgency to find a systematic process for evaluating the cost/benefit of spending allocation decisions.
These trends raise scores of questions for those who allocate scarce resources, including:
What are the right measurements for EBM?
What are appropriate applications for EBM?
How can EBM guidelines be effectively implemented and enforced?
How can EBM be used to promote disease prevention and healthy behavior?
In the fall of 2004, the World Economic Forum convened a group of accomplished thought leaders to discuss these questions and the role that pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies may play in advancing the discussion and practice of EBM. This article includes viewpoints from the Forum and other insights into the use of EBM guidelines.