OHE’s Adrian Towse to Take Office as ISPOR President

Towse speaking LI 2-24-14 Adrian Towse


OHE’s Director, Adrian Towse, is President of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) for the 2014–15 term, beginning 1 July. His 3 June incoming president's address to the plenary session at the 19th Annual International Meeting is reproduced below. 

ISPOR Incoming President's Remarks

When I stood for election as President of ISPOR, I set out my view of the challenges ISPOR must address:

1. Continuing to globalise, by which I mean responding to the reality that most of the growth of interest in outcomes research and economic analysis is taking place outside North America and Europe

2. Working together with payers, who are demanding greater evidence of value, to establish what is feasible, given data, costs and the science and, over time, improve methods, the evidence base, and decision making

3. Continuing to raise scientific standards for health economics and outcomes research and

4. Supporting the next generation of researchers, by providing forums and opportunities both for learning and for exchanging important new ideas and approaches.

This meeting sets a record for the number of attendees at a North America ISPOR meeting and includes participants from a record number of different countries, a record number of student chapters, and regional chapters; the Asia Consortium is celebrating its first decade, the Latin American Consortium is celebrating ten years next year, and the Arabic and African chapter is looking to achieve Consortium status. Clearly, then, ISPOR is addressing important challenges, but I want to say a little more about the first challenge, globalisation.

  • Globalisation of ISPOR must be linked to an understanding of decision making in middle- and low-income country (MLIC) health systems.
  • MLICs increasingly wish to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) for their populations.
  • Using HTA, economic analysis and outcomes research to support priority setting as part of UHC will be important.
  • A key challenge in HTA in these, and indeed all regional settings, will be understanding the potential transferrability of evidence (its public good characteristics) to avoid reinventing the wheel. In Europe, we finally are trying to do this through the EUnetHTA Joint Action. Let us try to avoid building in duplication from the beginning elsewhere in the world.
  • Successful implementation of UHC also will require creating incentives in health care systems to achieve better outcomes, and creating the tools and systems to measure performance.

In other words, diverse health systems have diverse needs for information, economic analysis and outcomes research.

ISPOR must lead the scientific developments necessary to respond to these needs. We must break out of the narrow perspective of focussing on very detailed analysis of new drugs. Undertaking such analyses is a key challenge for many health systems. And ISPOR members are very good at meeting this challenge in any setting. But issues around health policy, the architecture of the health system, and how high quality outcomes can be incentivised and monitored are also pressing – particularly, I would argue, in countries seeking to increase access to health care services.

To this end, we should remind ourselves that we already recognise this wider role for our methods and skills in ISPOR. Here are some definitions from the ISPOR Book of Terms:

  • Outcomes research is “the scientific discipline that evaluates the effect of health care interventions on patient related if not patient specific, clinical, humanistic and economic outcomes” (my emphasis)
  • A health care intervention is in turn “a program, policy, measure, or activity designed to have an impact on an illness or disease in an individual or a population” (my emphasis). This is not necessarily a single product
  • Health care technology (for HTA) consists of:

– Drugs, biologics, devices, procedures

Support systems, organisational, delivery and managerial systems (e.g. disease management programme, health care payment system) (my emphasis)

So I repeat again: diverse health systems have diverse needs for information, economic analysis and outcomes research. ISPOR can lead the scientific developments essential to responding to these needs. At stake is the ability of people around the world to gain access to universal health coverage -- for the first time.

Of course, ISPOR already is global in its reach. An important part of ISPOR’s growing global footprint are the biennial conferences in Asia and in Latin America. I urge you to join me in Beijing in September for the next ISPOR conference, my first as ISPOR President, and remind you of the third ISPOR conference of 2014, in Amsterdam in November.

ISPOR’s publications are global and now include not only our flagship journal Value in Health, but also three regional issues of Value in Health -- Asia, CEEWAA (Central and Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Africa), and Latin America. The regional issues have moved to article-based electronic publishing with one full volume each year. The rising quality of these publications is reflected by (1) a projected 30% increase in the impact factor of Value in Health and (2) plans to get the regional issues included in Medline/PubMed.

Raising the global impact of ISPOR’s drive for good science is also reflected in the expanding webinar series and the current activities of the ISPOR Good Practice Task Forces.

I look forward to working with the new Incoming President Dan Malone, his newly elected colleagues on the board, and the continuing board members. Together, we will work to ensure that ISPOR continues to develop, with the support of a new executive director.

In closing, I emphasise once more that providing efficient and effective health care is truly a global challenge. ISPOR is a global organisation that exists to help meet this challenge. Diverse health systems face different challenges. ISPOR must anticipate and respond to this broad range of needs. We can do this.  


Founded in 1995, ISPOR promotes the science of pharmacoeconomics (health economics) and outcomes research and facilitates the translation of this research into useful information for health care decision makers to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care to improve health. It has more than 7300 members from 105 countries; the 71 ISPOR Regional Chapters have more than 6000 members, extending ISPOR's outreach to over 13,300 members worldwide.

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