Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO

Health Economics

Health economics at CCBIO is concerned with two major research problems: what is the cost-effectiveness of biomarkers, and how does the interplay between the diagnostic market and the pharmaceutical market affect incentives to invest in R&D for cancer biomarkers, termed the industrial organization of biomarkers.


Portrait of Askildsen and Cairns
Askildsen and Cairns are all set to give a strike to all cancers through investigating health economy and cost-effectiveness of biomarkers.
Ingvild Festervoll Melien

The Health Economics Research Group is located at the Department of Economics, University of Bergen, in close cooperation with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK.

The group’s projects

Research into the industrial economics of biomarkers is conducted in close cooperation with the Bergen Center for Competition, Law and Economics (BECCLE) at the University of Bergen. A starting point for this research is the interesting observation that the development of diagnostic tests that make it possible to predict whether a patient is likely to have beneficial response to a certain drug, has been slower than expected. One factor that may explain the lack of progress is limited transparency and sharing of knowledge between the drug companies and the developers of biomarker tests.

The research group will investigate different possible mechanisms explaining this outcome, and look at possible regulatory mechanisms to mitigate adverse social affects. Ana Beatriz Mateus D’Avó Luís has recently been granted a 3 year grant for a PhD project which will constitute the main output from this line of research. Professor Tommy Staahl Gabrielsen at the Department of Economics and BECCLE and Associate Professor Julie Riise at the Department of Economics will be her supervisors. 

The first study, deriving a theoretical basis for regulation mechanisms, will investigate conditions for the development of patented drugs. The focus will be on both regulated and unregulated markets, and with consideration to possible mechanisms that may affect the incentives to bring patented drugs together with biomarkers to the market.

A further intention is to use quality register data available in Norway to investigate actual use and consequences of biomarkers. Ana Beatriz Mateus D’Avó Luís will cooperate with John Cairns and Mikyung Kelly Seo at the LSHTM in investigating whether there has been a positive relationship between the utilization of cancer biomarkers and the improvement of health and productivity outcomes in recent years.

Mikyung Kelly Seo started her PhD on the economic evaluation of cancer biomarkers in January 2016 under the supervision of Professor John Cairns. She presented her review of the impact of biomarkers on the cost-effectiveness of targeted therapies for metastatic colorectal cancer at the 4th CCBIO Symposium in May. Her detailed PhD plans were approved by an independent assessment committee in October 2016.

John Cairns gave several lectures as part of the PhD course CCBIO903 - Cancer Research: Ethical, economic and social aspects, in May and June 2016.