Applying Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) Simple Scoring as an Evidence-based HTA Methodology for Evaluating Off-Patent Pharmaceuticals (OPPs) in Emerging Markets

Value Health Reg Issues. 2017 Sep;13:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vhri.2017.02.001. Epub 2017 May 11.


Off-patent pharmaceuticals (OPPs) represent more than 60% of the pharmaceutical market in many emerging countries, where they are frequently evaluated primarily on cost rather than with health technology assessment. OPPs are assumed to be identical to the originators. Branded and unbranded generic versions can, however, vary from the originator in active pharmaceutical ingredients, dosage, consistency formulation, excipients, manufacturing processes, and distribution, for example. These variables can alter the efficacy and safety of the product, negatively impacting both the anticipated cost savings and the population's health. In addition, many health care systems lack the resources or expertise to evaluate such products, and current assessment methods can be complex and difficult to adapt to a health system's needs. Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) simple scoring is an evidence-based health technology assessment methodology for evaluating OPPs, especially in emerging countries in which resources are limited but decision makers still must balance affordability with factors such as drug safety, level interchangeability, manufacturing site and active pharmaceutical ingredient quality, supply track record, and real-life outcomes. MCDA simple scoring can be applied to pharmaceutical pricing, reimbursement, formulary listing, and drug procurement. In November 2015, a workshop was held at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research Annual Meeting in Milan to refine and prioritize criteria that can be used in MCDA simple scoring for OPPs, resulting in an example MCDA process and 22 prioritized criteria that health care systems in emerging countries can easily adapt to their own decision-making processes.

Keywords: HTA; MCDA; MCDA simple scoring; emerging markets; generic pharmaceuticals; health technology assessment; multicriteria decision analysis; off-patent pharmaceuticals.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Developing Countries
  • Drug Costs
  • Drugs, Generic / standards
  • Drugs, Generic / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / economics*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / standards*


  • Drugs, Generic