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16.09.2015 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 6/2016 Open Access

The European Journal of Health Economics 6/2016

Economic evaluation in chronic pain: a systematic review and de novo flexible economic model

The European Journal of Health Economics > Ausgabe 6/2016
W. Sullivan, M. Hirst, S. Beard, D. Gladwell, F. Fagnani, J. López Bastida, C. Phillips, W. C. N. Dunlop
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10198-015-0720-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Future use of the model code: MundiPharma International encourages free access and adaptation of the model code available as supplementary material. They request that future adaptations or applications make the following statement in the model code and publications. “This model has been based on a Reference Case model in chronic pain as originally developed by MundiPharma International (Cambridge, UK) doi:10.​1007/​s10198-015-0720-y”.


There is unmet need in patients suffering from chronic pain, yet innovation may be impeded by the difficulty of justifying economic value in a field beset by data limitations and methodological variability. A systematic review was conducted to identify and summarise the key areas of variability and limitations in modelling approaches in the economic evaluation of treatments for chronic pain. The results of the literature review were then used to support the development of a fully flexible open-source economic model structure, designed to test structural and data assumptions and act as a reference for future modelling practice. The key model design themes identified from the systematic review included: time horizon; titration and stabilisation; number of treatment lines; choice/ordering of treatment; and the impact of parameter uncertainty (given reliance on expert opinion). Exploratory analyses using the model to compare a hypothetical novel therapy versus morphine as first-line treatments showed cost-effectiveness results to be sensitive to structural and data assumptions. Assumptions about the treatment pathway and choice of time horizon were key model drivers. Our results suggest structural model design and data assumptions may have driven previous cost-effectiveness results and ultimately decisions based on economic value. We therefore conclude that it is vital that future economic models in chronic pain are designed to be fully transparent and hope our open-source code is useful in order to aspire to a common approach to modelling pain that includes robust sensitivity analyses to test structural and parameter uncertainty.

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