COPD exerts a substantial burden on health and health care systems globally and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Treatment however can be costly and health care providers are interested in both whether treatments can offer improvements in disease burden and whether they represent value for money. Economic evaluations seek to resolve this issue by producing results that can be used to inform and assist the decision maker in allocating scarce health care resources. In this paper we introduce economic evaluation and then use these themes to review and critically appraise the existing COPD economic evaluations, in order to assess quality in light of today's standards. The use of existing economic evaluations in informing the decision maker is then discussed. Ten out of the fifteen studies were clinical trial or observational study based, and the remaining five on a decision analytic model. Study design, interventions, outcome measures and the use of uncertainty varied considerably; consequentially the results are difficult to compare in any consistent manner. Efforts for future studies to harmonize study design and methodology, particularly towards adopting a modeling framework, using current treatment as comparator and adopting a common effectiveness measure, such as the QALY, should be made in order to produce results that are comparable and useful to a decision maker.
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