Applied Health Economics and Health Policy

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 387–391 | Cite as

The use of research abstracts in formulary decision making by the joint oncology drug review of Canada

  • Adam V. Weizman
  • Josh Griesman
  • Chaim M. BellEmail author
Short Communication


Background and Objective

Opinions on the use of research abstracts in policy decision making are conflicting. We sought to evaluate the influence of research abstracts in guiding decisions of the Joint Oncology Drug Review of Canada (JODR), which conducts clinical and economic reviews of new cancer treatment drugs for formulary listing.


The minutes of the monthly meetings of the JODR between 2005 and 2007 were reviewed. One submission per drug indication was included. Elements evaluated included the level of evidence supporting each decision, the year the study was published and subsequent publication of any abstracts.


There were 73 recommendations reviewed over the 36 months. Ten recommendations were deferred and eight recommendations were resubmissions, thus 55 recommendations underwent analysis. There were 31 recommendations based to some extent on abstracts, of which 14 (45%) were in favour of formulary listing and 17 (55%) were opposed. Twelve recommendations were based exclusively on abstracts, seven (58%) of which were in favour of formulary listing. As a comparison, published randomized controlled trials were part of the evidentiary base in 30 committee recommendations (55%). Of these, 17 (57%) were in favour of formulary listing, while 13 (43%) were opposed.


Research abstracts are commonly involved in evidence-based decision making for formulary listing. The rates of approving cancer drugs for funding by the JODR were similar among recommendations based on abstracts and other levels of evidence. Abstracts can play an important role in guiding decision making.


Formulary Inclusion Research Abstract Data Extraction Form Formulary Listing Meeting Minute 
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.



The authors wish to thank all past and present members of the JODR and the associated Ministry of Health staff for their help in this study.

Dr Bell is a JODR member, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute chair in Patient Safety and Continuity of Care. The funding agencies had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis or interpretation of the data; or preparation, review or approval of the manuscript. The corresponding author had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam V. Weizman
    • 1
  • Josh Griesman
    • 2
  • Chaim M. Bell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medicine and Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge InstituteSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy Management and EvaluationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.St. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada

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