Vinorelbine in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Pharmacoeconomic Review
Allan J. Coukell
Vinorelbine is a semisynthetic vinca alkaloid that is effective against advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Myelosuppression is the primary dose-limiting toxicity; vinorelbine is otherwise relatively well tolerated. Two studies assessed the cost effectiveness of vinorelbine with or without cisplatin based primarily on data from a phase III comparison with vindesine plus cisplatin. Survival and cost data from this study were supplemented with those from other sources. One model simulated total management costs for the 4986 patients diagnosed with stage IV NSCLC in Canada in 1992. The other applied US cost data to the outcomes from the phase III trial. Using vinorelbine monotherapy or vinorelbine plus cisplatin produced a survival benefit and net cost savings compared with best supportive care according to the Canadian model (and preliminary data from a third analysis, conducted in the US). In the Canadian analysis, incremental cost effectiveness for inpatient or outpatient vinorelbine plus cisplatin ranged from 7450 Canadian dollars ($Can) to $Can30 770 (1993 values) per year of life saved (YLS) compared with outpatient cisplatin plus either etoposide or vinblastine. Cost-effectiveness ratios for vinorelbine plus cisplatin in the US analysis (1994 values) were $US18 000 (vs cisplatin plus etoposide) and $US15 500 (vs cisplatin plus vindesine) per YLS [all inpatient administration]. Detailed pharmacoeconomic comparisons with other current standard regimens (e.g. paclitaxel plus either cisplatin or carboplatin) are not available. Sensitivity analyses suggest that the cost effectiveness of vinorelbine-based therapy is robust to changes in assumptions regarding efficacy and the cost of managing toxicity. Limitations of the available pharmacoeconomic data include the retrospective nature of the analyses, inclusion of data from sources other than the main phase III trial (e.g. those for best supportive care and some chemotherapy regimens), and exclusion of some costs for hospitalisation and/or management of toxicity. Conclusions. Although some limitations apply, the available data suggest that vinorelbine alone or in combination with cisplatin is cost saving compared with best supportive care for NSCLC, and that vinorelbine plus cisplatin is cost effective compared with some other combination regimens. The pharmacoeconomic placing of vinorelbine in relation to a number of other currently recommended first-line treatments for NSCLC has yet to be resolved, and data from ongoing multicentre phase III trials are awaited with interest. In the meantime, vinorelbine-based chemotherapy appears to be a suitable choice for first-line treatment of advanced NSCLC from both clinical and pharmacoeconomic perspectives.
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