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  • Claire Packer (a1), Matthew Fung (a2) and Andrew Stevens (a2)

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of the English National Horizon Scanning Centre (NHSC) in identifying and filtering pharmaceutical developments using end user and international collaborator databases of emerging technologies as proxies for new drugs of likely significance to health services and/or patients.

Methods: We used the NHSC information system and the list of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) technology appraisals to estimate the false positive rate for NHSC identification, filtration, and reporting. We assessed the sensitivity of NHSC identification and filtration of pharmaceuticals for NICE technology appraisals from 1999 to the end of December 2010, and for pharmaceuticals entered into the EuroScan International Network database.

Results: We estimate that overall NHSC identification, filtration and reporting had a positive predictive value of 0.39 (95 percent CI, 0.36 to 0.43) and a false positive rate of 60 percent. Using NICE appraisals and EuroScan's database as proxies for pharmaceuticals of significance, we estimate the NHSC sensitivity over the 10-year period at 0.92 (95 percent CI, 0.89 to 0.95) and 0.89 (95 percent CI, 0.82 to 0.96) respectively.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the NHSC has performed well in terms of sensitivity over the past decade, but that the false positive rate of 60 percent may indicate that the filtration criteria for pharmaceuticals could be tightened for increased efficiency. Future evaluations of EAA systems should include an element of external review and explore the level of accuracy acceptable to funders and customers of such systems.

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1.Douw, K, Vondeling, H. Selective new health technologies for evaluation: Can clinical experts predict which new anticancer drugs will impact on Danish health care? Soc Sci Med. 2007;64:283286.
2.Ibargoyen-Roteta, N, Gutierrez-Ibarluzea, I, Benguria-Arrate, G, Galnares-Cordero, L, Asua, J. Differences in the identification process for new and emerging health technologies: Analysis of the EuroScan database. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2009;25:367373.
3.Mundy, L, Merlin, T, Hiller, JE. Early alert systems for new pharmaceuticals - do they have an impact on pharmaceutical public reimbursement decisions? A cross-national comparison. Poster Presentation. Globalisation and Health Technology Assessment. 6th Annual Meeting, Health Technology Assessment international (HTAi), Singapore, 21–24 June, 2009.
4.Murphy, K, Packer, C, Stevens, A, Simpson, S. Effective early warning systems for new and emerging health technologies: Developing an evaluation framework and an assessment of current systems. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2007;23:324330.
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6.Packer, C, Simpson, S, Stevens, A. International diffusion of new health technologies: A ten-country analysis of six health technologies. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2006;22:419428.
7.Simpson, S, Hyde, C, Cook, A, Packer, C, Stevens, A. Assessing the accuracy of forecasting: Applying standard diagnostic assessment tools to a health technology early warning system. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2003;20:381384.
8.Stevens, A, Packer, C, Robert, G. Early warning of new health care technologies in the United Kingdom. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 1998;14 (4):680686.
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International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care
  • ISSN: 0266-4623
  • EISSN: 1471-6348
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-technology-assessment-in-health-care
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