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The occurrence of future unrelated medical costs is a direct consequence of life-prolonging interventions, but most pharmacoeconomic guidelines recommend the exclusion of these costs. The Chinese guidelines were updated in 2020, taking an exclusion approach for the future unrelated medical cost. We notice the research surrounding this issue continues in other countries and leads to an inclusion recommendation in some guidelines. Meanwhile, this issue has not been discussed in China, reflecting an urgent need for extensive research on its impact. We reviewed the theoretical and practical studies surrounding the inclusion of future unrelated medical costs, summarised the landscape of guidelines in other jurisdictions. We found that the inclusion would increase the internal and external consistency of economic evaluation and the comparability of results between different jurisdictions. However, more research is needed surrounding this issue. We proposed a future research agenda to inform the update of Chinese guidelines. We recommend research on individual-level healthcare reimbursement data and end-of-life costs from hospital administrative data to generate the age-specific, sex-specific and condition-specific costs. We also recommend establishing a formal process to evaluate the ethical and economic impact of including future unrelated medical costs and adjust the threshold accordingly in the guidelines.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Glob Health

Publication Date





health economics, health policies and all other topics