, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 153–162 | Cite as

Discounting of Health Benefits in the Pharmacoeconomic Analysis of Drug Therapies

An Issue for Debate?
  • Douglas Coyle
  • Keith Tolley
Review Article


In most economic evaluations. future monetary costs and benefits and future health benefits are discounted at the same rate. The purpose of this article is to question such current practice. The primary reason behind discounting costs and benefits is to allow for individuals’ preferences over the timing of such events, i.e. to represent social time preference. We argue that the social time preference rate for health benefits is unlikely to be the same as that for monetary costs and benefits. The results of a sensitivity analysis of pharmacoeconomic analyses of drug treatments for hypertension illustrate how the choice of discount rate can affect the conclusions. As no definite conclusions can be drawn regarding the magnitude of the discount rate for health benefits, we recommend that analysts conduct sensitivity analyses employing differential discount rates for health benefits as well as monetary costs and benefits.


Health Benefit Discount Rate Marginal Utility Time Preference Pharmacoeconomic Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Coyle
    • 1
  • Keith Tolley
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Health EconomicsUniversity of YorkYorkEngland

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