Spotlight on Paclitaxel in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer The full text of this article was published in PharmacoEconomics 2001; 19 (11): 1111-1134.
Greg L. Plosker
A number of first-line chemotherapy options for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are advocated in treatment guidelines and/or by various clinical investigators. Platinum-based chemotherapy has clearly demonstrated efficacy in patients with advanced NSCLC and is generally recommended as first-line therapy, although there is increasing interest in the use of non-platinum chemotherapy regimens. Among the platinum-based combinations currently used in clinical practice are regimens such as cisplatin or carboplatin combined with paclitaxel, vinorelbine, gemcitabine, docetaxel or irinotecan. The particular combinations employed may vary between institutions and geographic regions. Several pharmacoeconomic analyses have been conducted on paclitaxel in NSCLC and most have focused on its use in combination with cisplatin. In terms of clinical efficacy, paclitaxel-cisplatin combinations achieved significantly higher response rates than teniposide plus cisplatin or etoposide plus cisplatin (previously thought to be among the more effective regimens available) in two large randomized trials. One of these studies showed a survival advantage for paclitaxel plus cisplatin [with or without a granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)] compared with etoposide plus cisplatin. A Canadian cost-effectiveness analysis incorporated data from one of the large randomized comparative trials and showed that the incremental cost per life-year saved for outpatient administration of paclitaxel plus cisplatin versus etoposide plus cisplatin was $US22 181 (30 619 Canadian dollars; $Can) [1997 costs]. A European analysis incorporated data from the other large randomized study and showed slightly higher costs per responder for paclitaxel plus cisplatin than for teniposide plus cisplatin in The Netherlands ($US30 769 vs $US29 592) and Spain ($US19 923 vs $US19 724) but lower costs per responder in Belgium ($US22 852 vs $US25 000) and France ($US28 080 vs $US34 747) [1995/96 costs]. In other cost-effectiveness analyses, paclitaxel plus cisplatin was associated with a cost per life-year saved relative to best supportive care of approximately $US10 000 in a US study (year of costing not reported) or $US11 200 in a Canadian analysis ($Can15 400; 1995 costs). Results were less favorable when combining paclitaxel with carboplatin instead of cisplatin and particularly when G-CSF was added to paclitaxel plus cisplatin. The Canadian study incorporated the concept of extended dominance in a threshold analysis and ranked paclitaxel plus cisplatin first among several comparator regimens (including vinorelbine plus cisplatin) when the threshold level was $Can75 000 ($US54 526) per life-year saved or per quality-adjusted life-year gained (1995 values). Conclusion: Current treatment guidelines for advanced NSCLC recognize paclitaxel-platinum combinations as one of the first-line chemotherapy treatment options. In two large head-to-head comparative clinical trials, paclitaxel plus cisplatin was associated with significantly greater response rates than cisplatin in combination with either teniposide or etoposide, and a survival advantage was shown for paclitaxel plus cisplatin (with or without G-CSF) over etoposide plus cisplatin. There are limitations to the currently available pharmacoeconomic data and further economic analyses of paclitaxel-carboplatin regimens are warranted, as this combination is widely used in NSCLC and appears to have some clinical advantages over paclitaxel plus cisplatin in terms of ease of administration and effects on platelets. Nevertheless, results of various cost-effectiveness studies support the use of paclitaxel-platinum combinations, particularly paclitaxel plus cisplatin, as a first-line chemotherapy treatment option in patients with advanced NSCLC.
Antineoplastics, Cost analysis, Non small cell lung cancer, Paclitaxel, Pharmacoeconomics
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