Comparing methods for full versus single technology appraisal: a case study of docetaxel and paclitaxel for early breast cancer

Health Policy. 2008 Sep;87(3):389-400. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2008.02.007. Epub 2008 Apr 2.


Objective: The aim of this study is to compare and contrast the reports of the rapid National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) single technology (STA) process with the full Health Technology Assessment Report (TAR) for the same technologies (docetaxel and paclitaxel for the adjuvant treatment of early breast cancer).

Methods: Documentary analysis was used to compare three reports. A data extraction form was developed to record information on the decision problem addressed in each report, literature searching methods, the clinical effectiveness review, cost-effectiveness analysis, conclusions and issues of concern.

Results: The decision problems and search strategies for the STAs differed from those reported in the TAR. Not all trials of clinical effectiveness included in the TAR were reported by manufacturers. The methods and assumptions used to assess the cost-effectiveness of the technologies were generally similar between reports, although only one common health economic comparison was presented across the three reports. The TAR supports the STA results for docetaxel but suggested that the manufacturer's cost-effectiveness estimates for paclitaxel were highly optimistic.

Conclusions: Although the STA process provides the opportunity for rapid appraisal of new technologies, there remains uncertainty concerning the extent to which STAs adequately address the specific decision problem under consideration.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Making
  • Docetaxel
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Paclitaxel / economics
  • Paclitaxel / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Taxoids / economics
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / methods*
  • Uncertainty


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel