Background. The National Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) employs an efficiency frontier (EF) framework to facilitate setting maximum reimbursable prices for new interventions. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA) is used when yes/no reimbursement decisions are sought based on a fixed threshold. In the IQWiG framework, an additional layer of complexity arises as the EF itself may vary its shape in each PSA iteration, and thus the willingness-to-pay, indicated by the EF segments, may vary. Objectives. To explore the practical problems arising when, within the EF approach, maximum reimbursable prices for new interventions are sought through PSA. Methods. When the EF is varied in a PSA, cost recommendations for new interventions may be determined by the mean or the median of the distances between each intervention's point estimate and each EF. Implications of using these metrics were explored in a simulation study based on the model used by IQWiG to assess the cost-effectiveness of 4 antidepressants. Results. Depending on the metric used, cost recommendations can be contradictory. Recommendations based on the mean can also be inconsistent. Results (median) suggested that costs of duloxetine, venlafaxine, mirtazapine, and bupropion should be decreased by €131, €29, €12, and €99, respectively. These recommendations were implemented and the analysis repeated. New results suggested keeping the costs as they were. The percentage of acceptable PSA outcomes increased 41% on average, and the uncertainty associated to the net health benefit was significantly reduced. Conclusions. The median of the distances between every intervention outcome and every EF is a good proxy for the cost recommendation that would be given should the EF be fixed. Adjusting costs according to the median increased the probability of acceptance and reduced the uncertainty around the net health benefit distribution, resulting in a reduced uncertainty for decision makers.

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Keywords decision analysis, detailed methodology: probabilistic sensitivity analysis, simulation methods
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Journal Medical Decision Making: an international journal
Corro Ramos, I, Lhachimi, S.K. (Stefan K.), Gerber-Grote, A. (Andreas), & Al, M.J. (2016). Cost Recommendation under Uncertainty in IQWiG's Efficiency Frontier Framework. Medical Decision Making: an international journal, 37(2), 162–172. doi:10.1177/0272989X16636856