Olanzapine: A Pharmacoeconomic Review of its Use in Schizophrenia
Rachel H. Foster
Karen L. Goa
Olanzapine is an atypical antipsychotic agent which is at least as effective as the conventional agent haloperidol and the atypical agent risperidone. Olanzapine may be superior to haloperidol in some respects, including treatment of negative symptoms. A major advantage of olanzapine over haloperidol is its lower risk of extrapyramidal symptoms. Olanzapine improves quality of life and other aspects of functioning to a greater extent than haloperidol, and improves quality of life to at least the same extent as risperidone. However, olanzapine has a high acquisition cost compared with conventional antipsychotics. Despite this, most pharmacoeconomic analyses indicate that treatment with olanzapine does not significantly increase, and may even decrease, the overall direct treatment costs of schizophrenia, compared with haloperidol. Total direct medical costs calculated from prospective resource utilisation data were lower with olanzapine than with haloperidol by $US388 (1995 values) per patient over 6 weeks and by $US55 per patient per month during 46 weeks extended treatment. In a mixed effects linear model of the same data, total costs over 1 year were $US10 301 (1996 values) per patient lower with olanzapine than haloperidol, and olanzapine was associated with 18.3 more symptom-free days per patient. Compared with risperidone, mean total direct medical costs over 28 weeks were $US493 (1995 values) per patient lower with olanzapine. In a Markov model of 5 years' treatment, olanzapine was associated with more time in a disability-free state than haloperidol at a total cost per patient that was lower by $US1539 (1995 values), Lstg 816 (1995/1996 values), 977 Dutch guilders (NLG; 1995 values) and 2296 Deutschmarks in US, UK, Dutch and German analyses, respectively. In a similar Spanish analysis, the overall total cost was higher with olanzapine, giving an incremental cost effectiveness for olanzapine of 32 516 pesetas (1995 values) per month of disability-free time gained. When risperidone was a comparator, the total cost per patient was $US1875 and NLG202 lower with olanzapine in US and Dutch analyses, respectively. Conclusions: The high acquisition cost of olanzapine is offset by reductions in other treatment costs in patients with schizophrenia. Compared with haloperidol, the drug improved patient outcome and quality of life, while overall direct treatment costs were generally not increased, or even decreased. Olanzapine has also been reported to decrease overall treatment costs compared with risperidone, but confirmation is required. Olanzapine is a cost-effective alternative to conventional agents for the treatment of moderately to severely ill patients with long-standing schizophrenia.
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