In formulary committee deliberations, evidence for the efficacy of medications is often based on changes in the scale scores of patient-reported outcome measures. Our aim was to examine whether clinician judgement about the efficacy of medications for Alzheimer's disease, when added to scale score evidence, affects formulary committee members’ recommendations about providing these medications under public insurance.
The study was conducted using mixed methods. In a survey of formulary committee members in Canada, 32 participants were presented with scenarios that outlined different levels of efficacy for a medication. For each scenario, participants were asked to specify their likelihood of recommending that the medication be provided under public insurance. Of the 32 participants, 23 agreed to take part in an interview to explain the survey results. Content analysis was used to elicit recurrent themes across the interviews.
When a medication was disease modifying, use of clinician judgement increased the mean likelihood of recommending that the medication be provided under public insurance. Despite this, some participants felt formulary committees should not use clinician judgement because of risks of subjectivity and bias. However, other participants believed the addition of clinician judgement would enhance the clinical relevance of evidence that might otherwise be based entirely on changes in scale score.
Clinician judgement about the efficacy of medications can influence formulary committee recommendations. This suggests the need for a new approach to govern the consideration of expert evidence during formulary committee deliberations.