Evaluating the costs and effectiveness of cardiovascular therapies: who cares about economic analyses?
The field of cardiovascular medicine is providing important insights about how the costs and effectiveness of diagnostic and therapeutic technologies are managed. As health-care budgets have taken up more of the economy and as employers and patients have become concerned about the escalating costs of health care, we have entered an era in which individual practitioners must become concerned with the costs of a service relative to its benefits. Further, increasing numbers of effective therapies in a time when finances are notably constrained, we clearly cannot use all effective therapies in all patients. Increasingly, therefore, we must assess the value derived from spending incremental money on health care products and services. This exercise has been termed cost-effectiveness analysis. The case of the platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor, abciximab, is used to illustrate many of the issues surrounding the collection, interpretation, and (mis) application of cost-effectiveness data.
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