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Scientific Evidence in Health Technology Assessment. Reports: An In-Depth Analysis of European Assessments on High-Risk Medical Devices.

Autor
Olberg B, Fuchs S, Panteli D, Perleth M, Busse R
Journal
Value in Health, December 2017, Volume 20, Issue 10, Pages 1420-1426, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2017.05.011

Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to examine the scientific evidence on clinical effectiveness and safety used in health technology assessments (HTAs) of high-risk medical devices (MDs) in Europe.

Methods

We applied a systematic approach to identify European institutions involved in HTA and to select reports assessing MDs considered high-risk according to the definition in the new German health care regulation §137h. Reports published between 2010 and 2015 were considered in our subsequent analysis. We used a structured tool based on widely accepted methodologic principles from Drummond’s framework to extract key information on the clinical evidence considered in the reports.

Results

Out of 1376 identified reports, 93 were eligible for analysis. All reports based their assessment primarily on direct evidence, in most cases (68%) identified through an independent systematic literature search. In more than half the identified studies considered in the reports, clinical evidence for demonstration of effectiveness and safety was of moderate or low quality. Even when systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials were available for assessment, most studies showed an unclear or high risk of bias.

Conclusions

This study confirms that the quality of scientific evidence used in HTA of high-risk MDs is low and therefore the use of evidence needs improvement. The European Commission recently updated the regulation on MDs but mainly focused on the safety of materials and the CE (Conformité Européene [European Conformity]) mark. Our results show that additional changes are necessary, specifically with regard to the marketing authorization process of MDs, with stricter quality requirements based on methodologically robust trials, possibly in combination with other evidence sources.

Keywords: Europe, health technology assessment, medical devices, scientific evidence

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