OBJECTIVE: This article’s objective is to critically assess the Bulgarian legislation on health technology assessment (HTA). It analyses how innovative therapies and orphan drugs in particular would respond to the regulators’ decision-making criteria for reimbursement.
MATERIALS AND МETHODS: The study features critical analysis of current decision-making criteria for drug reimbursement in Bulgaria, as well as hypothetical scenario planning for orphan medicinal products.
RESULTS: The approval for inclusion into the Positive Drug List (PDL) (which is a must for reimbursement) has been reorganised into an assessment scoring system with decisionmaking criteria (presence of therapeutic alternative, clinical effectiveness, safety, pharmacoeconomics and societal value) divided into weighted indicators. An explicit threshold has been set - a medicinal product must score 60 points at least to be included in PDL. Under the currently defined reimbursement decision-making criteria a hypothetical middle- of-the-road scenario planning shows that an orphan drug would score 20 points for therapeutic alternative, 28 for clinical effectiveness and 12 for safety. It would take no points for pharmacoeconomics and societal value. This leaves the orphan drugs with a total score of 60 points, making the final outcome of real-life assessment and decision-making heavily dependent on small fluctuations.
CONCLUSIONS: The current reimbursement decision-making framework in Bulgaria seems to be generalised and not sufficiently transparent. It is unable to precisely assess innovative health technologies. The availability of a therapeutic alternative emerges as a key reimbursement decision-making criterion for orphan drugs, as these innovative products nominally provide the first medicinal therapy alternative to rare diseases.
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