Global Health Priorities - Ole-Frithjof Norheim
Global Health Priorities is an interdisciplinary research group situated at the Department of Global Health and Primary Care at the University of Bergen. The group consists of a team of cross-disciplinary researchers and professionals dedicated to study the ethics and economics of priority setting in global health.
In 2022, the Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS+) was awarded the prestigious Centre of Excellence Status from the Norwegian Research Council. With ten-year funding, BCEPS+ aims to become a world-leading research center on ethics and priority setting.
BCEPS+ will continue to work on priority setting challenges in Norway, and the collaboration with CCBIO on cancer biomarkers, precision medicine and fair priority setting has been an important experience. In CCBIO, Norheim’s group has worked on how cancer biomarkers can inform and hopefully improve health care priority setting. How is our ethical thinking about treating people as equals challenged when biomarkers and other individual characteristics stratify patients into smaller and smaller sub-groups, with only some being offered new and potentially lifesaving treatments?
Eirik Joakim Tranvåg’s PhD project “Precision and Uncertainty: Cancer biomarkers and new perspectives on fairness in priority setting”, with Ole Frithjof Norheim as the main supervisor, was the main subproject in Norheim’s CCBIO team. Tranvåg successfully defended his thesis in September 2021. In 2022 the final article of the thesis was published (Tranvåg EJ et al., JAMA Netw Open, 2022; PMID: 35767256).
The article Appraising Drugs Based on Cost-effectiveness and Severity of Disease in Norwegian Drug Coverage Decisions was published in JAMA Network Open in June 2022. In the article, Tranvåg and colleagues were able to study confidential drug price information used for drug appraisals and coverage decisions in Norway. The authors demonstrated how costeffectiveness and severity of disease are systematically implemented and used in appraisals and that the Norwegian method may be a feasible strategy to control increasing drug prices. This paper was important for Norwegian health policy discussions and received considerable media attention when published.
The BCEPS+ Centre of Excellence will start its journey in July 2023 and expand its activities. The main aim of BCEPS+ is to develop innovative methods and a new ethical framework that can be applied at all levels to achieve fair and efficient priority setting in health. After completing his PhD, Tranvåg now works as a senior advisor in The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board, with responsibility for personalized medicine, bioethics and other relevant topics for biotechnology and ethics.