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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Part II - Hyper-active Governance in Practice

  • Matthew Wood, University of Sheffield
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • pp 67-190

Summary

This chapter looks empirically at the field of health technology assessment (HTA) and argues that it is possible to identify the ‘defence’ style of hyper-active governance posited in the previous chapter. HTA is the crucial expert policy area, involving deciding which drugs and other medical treatments are safe and cost-effective to be prescribed by a local doctor or hospital. HTA has been described by international organisations promoting its use as ‘the systematic evaluation of the properties and effects of a health technology, addressing the direct and intended effects of this technology, as well as its indirect and unintended consequences, and aimed mainly at informing decision making regarding health technologies’ (www.inahta.org). It is a process for making delicate decisions about whether a country will fund a medicine, often based on variants of cost–benefit analysis. In this sense, HTA is a classic arena of expert governance: it is the attempt to turn highly emotive decisions about life and death – about who gets access to new potentially life saving drugs and medical treatments – into rational, evidence-based questions of medical science.