Two new PhDs to complement ESiOR expertise

Two of ESiOR’s employees, Senior Consultant Saku Väätäinen and Consultant, Market Access Manager Saara Huoponen, have completed their doctoral studies and received doctoral degrees in the field of Pharmacy.


Saku defended his doctoral dissertation on 22nd of February, 2020. The opponent for the public examination was Docent Arto Strandberg of University of Helsinki and custos Professor Janne Martikainen of University of Eastern Finland. Saku finished his studies and graduated in April 2020.

In his dissertation, ’Health Utility along the Diabetes Continuum, Examination of utility values in impaired glucose metabolism using pre-scored multi-attribute utility instruments’, Saku examined the relationship between impaired glucose metabolism and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) as part of larger Savitaipale Study.

Although the HRQoL effects of type 2 diabetes had been studied extensively previously, the effects of so called prediabetic stages, increased fasting glucose and impaired glucose metabolism, had not been examined previously.

Saku and his team’s publications were  first to show that impaired glucose metabolism and overall diabetes risk are associated with meaningfully impaired HRQoL. Findings can be used for health economic research and decision making, for instance in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of type 2 diabetes prevention interventions.


Saara graduated earlier in December 2019. Saara defended her doctoral dissertation on 25th of October, 2019. The opponent for the public examination was Research Professor Hennamari Mikkola from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland and custos Professor Raimo K. Tuominen from the University of Helsinki.

In her dissertation, Saara evaluated the costs, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of biological drugs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

The use of the biological drugs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases is causing significant health care costs. Health economic evaluations enable more efficient use of the limited health care resources. In the dissertation, Saara and her research group evaluated the cost-effectiveness of biological drugs in the Finnish health care setting using real-world data (RWD).

Health economic modelling based on the Finnish RWD did not show any meaningful differences in effectiveness between the examined biological drugs in rheumatoid arthritis patients who had been previously been treated with Tumour Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF) inhibitors. However, TNF inhibitors produced most modelled QALYs with lowest costs, and, therefore, were the most cost-effective treatment option in the Finnish setting. In contrast, based on the systematic literature review, rituximab (a β cell inhibitor) was the most cost-effective biological drug for rheumatoid arthritis patients with an inadequate response to TNF inhibitor internationally.

Based on the systematic literature review, biological drugs appeared to be cost-effective in the treatment of the active and severe inflammatory bowel disease. Prospective Finnish RWD suggested that the impact that switching from the originator infliximab to a biosimilar had on HRQoL, disease activity or secondary healthcare costs (excluding the costs of infliximab) in the maintenance treatment of inflammatory bowel disease was not statistically significant 12 months after the switch from originator to a biosimilar.