OHE's 60th Anniversary Party – Celebrating Our Achievements and Looking Forward

Article by: Mireia Jofre-Bonet

On the evening of June 16, 2022, an exceptionally bright and warm day, OHE hosted a party to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its existence. The event took place at 4 Hamilton Place, an Edwardian Mansion in the heart of Mayfair, London. About 140 attendants were served nibbles and drinks on the terrace with views over Hyde Park and listened to the commemorative speeches of Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King's Fund; Graham Cookson, OHE's Chief Executive Officer; and Adrian Towse, former Director of OHE and now Emeritus Director.

In his address, Graham Cookson put into historical perspective the foundation of the Office of Health Economics in 1962. Since then, the contribution of OHE to the growing body of knowledge in health economics has been substantial and broad, ranging from measuring the cost of diseases and the National Health System to studying whether a medicine is good value, how to incentivise healthcare providers, how to measure patients' quality of life, healthcare system efficiency, and how to design innovative drug reimbursement systems, among others.

Graham thanked the ABPI for its forward-thinking vision in founding OHE in 1962, but also to the members of the OHE's different Policy and Research committees over time, the Editorial Board, Visiting Research Fellows and collaborating institutions that have ensured the independence and rigour of OHE's research. Graham expressed his special gratitude to Adrian Towse for being a visionary director of OHE for 25 years, culminating in establishing OHE as a Charity. George Teeling-Smith, a predecessor of Adrian, was also remembered and thanked, along with OHE's "smart, hard-working, ambitious, enthusiastic, opinionated and caring" team.

Richard Murray reminisced about the role of health economics and OHE during his long career. Richard mentioned the creation of OHE's Compendium of Health Statistics at the end of the 1960s as an invaluable asset for economists studying the health system and, therefore, for the decision-makers relying on them. Among other subjects he mentioned, there was the contribution of OHE to the debate on health system efficiency and providing evidence-based arguments in often heated conversations. Above all, Richard congratulated OHE for 60 years of high-quality research and professionalism.

Adrian Towse was in charge of the celebratory toast. Before raising his glass, he highlighted some core moments in OHE's first 60 years of existence. For instance, in 1983, OHE organised a three-day workshop on the development of quality of life measures, with the attendance of pivotal health economists (Rosser, Williams, Culyer, Maynard and others) that set up the development of the concept of Quality-Adjusted Life Years. Measuring patient outcomes was taken further by the former OHE Director of Research, Nancy Devlin, who became a key member of EuroQol. Adrian highlighted the start of OHE's long string of Annual Lectures in 1980 with Douglas Black on Health Inequalities, which were followed by many eminent speakers ranging from David Sackett to Kenneth Arrow and Angus Deaton. Adrian took pride in OHE’s aim to always be ahead of the curve with initiatives like leading the way in risk-sharing and coverage and identifying additional elements of value. Adrian also referred to the sadly not-so-successful (yet) campaign for the routine collection of the Patient-Reported Outcome Measure set in the NHS. Adrian thanked John Sussex, former Deputy Director of OHE, for his significant impact on putting OHE where it is today. Finally, Adrian raised his glass to congratulate OHE for its first 60 years of existence, expressed his wishes for many more years to come, and declared his happiness with the direction in which Graham Cookson, along with Lotte Steuten and Mireia Jofre-Bonet, have taken OHE since he passed on its steering.

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