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In response to rising prices for medicines, public and private payers increasingly rely on assessments of cost-effectiveness to justify coverage. But a new examination finds that such studies sponsored by drug companies were often biased in favor of setting higher prices for their medicines.

Specifically, one-third of the cost-effectiveness analyses that were conducted by drugmakers reached more favorable conclusions than independently conducted analyses. And industry-sponsored analyses were twice as likely to report that a medicine was cost effective when relying on a commonly used metric to gauge the value of a medication, according to the study published in The BMJ.


“The evidence strongly shows that sponsorship bias is significant in cost-effectiveness analyses. The bias is systemic and exists, to vary(ing) degrees, across a wide range of diseases and study designs,” the researchers wrote. And they added that using analyses “conducted by independent bodies could provide payers with more ability to negotiate for lower prices.”

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