Developing a Framework for the Health Technology Assessment of Histology-independent Precision Oncology Therapies

Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2021 Sep;19(5):625-634. doi: 10.1007/s40258-021-00654-4. Epub 2021 May 24.


The arrival of precision oncology is challenging the evidence standards under which technologies are evaluated for regulatory approval as well as for health technology assessment (HTA) purposes. Several key concepts are discussed to highlight the source of the challenges in evaluating these products, particularly those impacting the HTA of histology-independent therapies. These include the basket trial design, high uncertainty in (potentially substantial) benefits for histology-independent therapies, and the inability to identify and quantify benefits of standard of care in daily practice when the biomarker is not currently used in practice. There is little precedent for a technology with the unique mixture of challenges for HTA of histology-independent therapies and they will be evaluated using standard HTA, as there currently is no evidence suggesting the standard HTA framework is not appropriate. A number of questions proposed to help guide HTA bodies when assessing the appropriateness of local processes to optimally evaluate histology-independent therapies. Pragmatic solutions are further proposed to decrease uncertainty in the benefits of histology independent therapies as well as fill gaps in comparative evidence. The proposed solutions ensure a consistent and streamlined approach to evaluation across histology-independent products, although with varying strengths and limitations. Alongside these solutions, sponsors should engage early with HTA bodies/payers and regulatory agencies through parallel/joint scientific advice to facilitate the integration of both regulatory and HTA perspectives into one clinical development programme, potentially reconciling evidence requirements.

MeSH terms

  • Government Agencies
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Precision Medicine
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical*