Maarten J Postma

Maarten J Postma

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Title: Specificities of health economics in the area of vaccines’ evaluation


Prof Maarten J Postma (29/01/1960) holds the chair in Pharmacoeconomics at the University of Groningen (Netherlands). Also, he holds an honorary chair in Health Economics at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and is director of UMCG’s research institute SHARE. He did his MSc in econometrics and his PhD in health economics. Next to being head of the Unit PharmacoEpidemiology & PharmacoEconomics (40 employees) of the Department of Pharmacy and being among the board of directors of the Department, he specifically leads a team of 20 PhD and post-doc researchers in health- and pharmacoeconomics, contributing to many international research networks (co-operations with the University of London, Mario Negri in Italy, University of Ghent, the University of Munich, University la Rioja) and scientific communications. Research areas comprise cost-effectiveness methods, for example, in vaccinology, transfusion science and personalized medicine. He serves (served) on various committees advising the Dutch government on reimbursement of drugs and vaccines (“Commissie Farmaceutische Hulp” and Health Council). Also, he is advisor to various health-economics consultancy companies and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, Ministries of Health in neighbouring countries, member of editorial boards of scientific journals, on advisory boards for pharmaceutical companies and consultant for WHO. He is specialized in the role of pharmacoeconomics/health economics in the reimbursement process. He has approximately 250 MEDLINE-publications, an H-factor of 30 (Scholar) and extensive teaching/lecturing experience.


Health economics is becoming increasingly important in the evaluation of vaccination strategies, for example, in the context of formal health-technology assessments of new vaccines. Notably, guidelines for health economics are omnipresent and often developed for therapeutic pharmaceuticals (pharmacoeconomics). It is debated in how far these guidelines can straightforwardly be applied to vaccines as well. It is well known they generally impact quite differently on vaccines than they do concerning therapeutics pharmaceuticals. Issues of such debate concern discounting, the perspective chosen, the desired time horizon and type of clinical endpoints warranted. The debate will be illustrated using examples from newly available vaccines, such as the rota and HPV-vaccines, but also apply to already longer existing vaccination programs for various respiratory infections. The aim is to identify the issues of relevance and suggest ways for better precision in the guidelines to optimally accommodate economic evaluations of vaccines as well, as in the current situation these guidelines seem to fail in that respect.

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