Introduction: Lower-income European countries have a worse health status and less funds for health care compared to Western Europe. Despite their limited human and financial capacities for conducting Health Technology Assessment (HTA), the need for evidence-based decision-making is growing. Two main approaches emerged as potential solutions: joint clinical assessments on the European level, and simplified procedures relying on the judgments of well-established HTA agencies of Western countries.
Areas covered: Based on considerations of transferability, the European Network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA) was built up to harmonize HTA methodologies across the European Union, and to develop an HTA Core Model by focusing on joint production of relative effectiveness assessment, which can be used as a basis for national value assessments. The second approach has been suggested in various forms without considering transferability issues.
Expert opinion: Joint clinical assessments reduce duplication of efforts based on appropriate scientific rationale. On the other hand, recent examples show that relying on judgments of HTA agencies from wealthier countries with potentially different health-care priorities can lead to suboptimal allocation decisions. In the short term, some stakeholders may benefit from ignoring transferability, but it will ultimately lead to limited access in other disease areas.
Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe; EUnetHTA; health policy; health technology assessment; transferability.