Costs Incurred by Patients Undergoing Advanced Colorectal Cancer Therapy: A Comparison of Raltitrexed and Fluorouracil plus Folinic Acid
Michael K. Palmer
Background: To assess the cost effectiveness of healthcare interventions from a societal perspective, it is necessary to include costs such as patients' travel costs and the opportunity cost of patients' time spent consuming healthcare. Objective: To analyse patients' travel and time costs associated with 2 alternative drug therapies for advanced colorectal cancer: raltitrexed and fluorouracil plus folinic acid (leucovorin) [5FU + FA]. Design and setting: The analysis is based on a prospective substudy within a multinational randomised controlled trial of raltitrexed versus 5FU + FA. Patients and participants: 495 patients with advanced colorectal cancer were enrolled in the trial, 270 of whom completed the questionnaire on costs. Methods: Data were collected within the trial to estimate the numbers of journeys made to and from hospital by patients and the time lost from usual activities over the period of therapy. A subset of patients were asked to complete a questionnaire to provide the information necessary to value time and travel costs in monetary terms. These data, together with UK transport costs and forgone time values, were used to value the transport and opportunity costs of time of all patients in the trial. Results: The total travel cost per patient was statistically significantly higher in the 5FU + FA group (p < 0.001; median of Lstg 31.50 with raltitrexed, Lstg 96.00 with 5FU + FA; 1997 prices). Overall time cost per patient was also higher in the 5FU + FA group (p = 0.005; median of Lstg 168.80 with raltitrexed, Lstg 224.04 with 5FU + FA). Adding the two gives a median total cost per patient of Lstg 206.08 [interquartile range (IQR) Lstg 108 to Lstg 482] among patients randomised to raltitrexed and Lstg 342.25 (IQR Lstg 214 to Lstg 555) for those in the 5FU + FA group (p < 0.001). The sensitivity analysis showed that, even under extreme assumptions, raltitrexed imposed fewer time and travel costs on patients. These cost differences are likely, in part, to reflect the longer treatment times for 5FU + FA patients (median 16.9 vs 12.7 weeks). Conclusions: Different chemotherapy regimens for advanced colorectal cancer can impose different travel and time costs on patients. Over the period of treatment in a randomised controlled trial of 495 patients, those randomised to 5FU + FA were found to have a median travel plus time cost Lstg 136 per patient higher than those randomised to raltitrexed.
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