Pharmacoeconomic Considerations in Treating Patients With Acute Leukaemia
Mogen Mork Hansen
Whereas individual cost-effectiveness analyses of new agents for acute leukaemia should be performed in target populations, any meaningful pharmacoeconomic evaluation of treatment options for this condition should include the many types of costs and outcomes in unselected, representative groups of patients. Both direct costs (e.g. costs for medication and hospitalisation) and indirect costs (e.g. lost productivity costs and reduced quality of life) are important parameters to assess, as are the costs of chronic adverse effects, research and development costs for new agents, and costs of procedure-related deaths. Complete remission, cure and survival are the `success' response criteria for acute leukaemia treatments, in addition to prolonged life with acceptable quality of life for patients with incurable acute leukaemia. Death is `failure', caused either by resistant disease (relapse and progressive disease) inspite of optimal chemotherapy or, sometimes, by insufficient treatment. All of these parameters should be taken into account when a pharmacoeconomic evaluation is performed (either for administrative or scientific purposes) in order to ensure a comprehensive and reliable background for the evaluation in question. Treatment of acute leukaemia is expensive with a total cost of about $US3000 per patient per day during the induction. Although 80% of children with acute leukaemia are cured, only less than 50% of adults are cured. Thus, a great cost is associated with death during treatment and only optimal medical treatment with full-scale combination chemotherapy and full supportive treatment can keep the number of deaths to a minimum.
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