Surrogate Endpoints in Health Technology Assessment: An International Review of Methodological Guidelines

Grigore, Bogdan; Ciani, Oriana; Dams, Florian; Federici, Carlo; de Groot, Saskia; Möllenkamp, Meilin; Rabbe, Stefan; Shatrov, Kosta; Zemplenyi, Antal; Taylor, Rod S. (2020). Surrogate Endpoints in Health Technology Assessment: An International Review of Methodological Guidelines. PharmacoEconomics, 38(10), pp. 1055-1070. Springer 10.1007/s40273-020-00935-1

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In the drive towards faster patient access to treatments, health technology assessment (HTA) agencies are increasingly faced with reliance on evidence from surrogate endpoints, leading to increased decision uncertainty. This study undertook an updated survey of methodological guidance for using surrogate endpoints across international HTA agencies. We reviewed HTA and economic evaluation methods guidance from European, Australian and Canadian HTA agencies. We considered how guidelines addressed the methods for handling surrogate endpoints, including (1) level of evidence, (2) methods of validation, and (3) thresholds of acceptability. Across the 73 HTA agencies surveyed, 29 (40%) had methodological guidelines that made specific reference to consideration of surrogate outcomes. Of the 45 methods documents analysed, the majority [27 (60%)] were non-technology specific, 15 (33%) focused on pharmaceuticals and three (7%) on medical devices. The principles of the European network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA) guidelines published in 2015 on the handling of surrogate endpoints appear to have been adopted by many European HTA agencies, i.e. preference for final patient-relevant outcomes and reliance on surrogate endpoints with biological plausibility and epidemiological evidence of the association between the surrogate and final endpoint. Only a small number of HTA agencies (UK National Institute for Care and Excellence; the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information and Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care; the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee; and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health) have developed more detailed prescriptive criteria for the acceptance of surrogate endpoints, e.g. meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials showing strong association between the treatment effect on the surrogate and final outcomes. As the decision uncertainty associated with reliance on surrogate endpoints carries a risk to patients and society, there is a need for HTA agencies to develop more detailed methodological guidance for consistent selection and evaluation of health technologies that lack definitive final patient-relevant outcome evidence at the time of the assessment.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


11 Centers of Competence > KPM Center for Public Management
04 Faculty of Medicine > Faculty Institutions > sitem Center for Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship > Healthcare Regulation and Management

UniBE Contributor:

Dams, Florian and Shatrov, Kosta Donislavov


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 350 Public administration & military science






[UNSPECIFIED] European Commission H2020


Projects 779306 not found.




Kosta Donislavov Shatrov

Date Deposited:

28 Jan 2021 19:19

Last Modified:

14 Mar 2021 15:18

Publisher DOI:


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