Cost Effectiveness, Quality-Adjusted Life-Years and Supportive Care: Recombinant Human Erythropoietin as a Treatment of Cancer-Associated Anaemia
Stan N. Finkelstein
Ernst R. Berndt
Mitchell B. Slavin
Objective: To measure the cost effectiveness of a supportive care intervention when the no-treatment option is unrealistic in an analysis of recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin) treatment for anaemic patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Further, to assess whether quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) can provide the basis for an appropriate measure of the value of supportive care interventions. Design: A modelling study drawing cost and effectiveness assumptions from a literature review and from 3 US clinical trials involving more than 4500 patients with cancer who were treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, epoetin and blood transfusions as needed under standard care for patients with cancer. Main outcome measures and results: When compared with transfusions, epoetin is cost effective under varying assumptions, whether effectiveness is measured by haemoglobin level or quality of life. Specifically, under a base-case scenario, the effectiveness resulting from $US1 spent on standard care can be achieved with only $US0.81 of epoetin care. Due in part to the health-state dependence of the significance patients attach to incremental changes in their responses on the linear analogue scale, cost per QALY results are ambiguous in this supportive care context. Conclusions: Under a broad range of plausible assumptions, epoetin can be used cost effectively in the treatment of anaemic patients with cancer. Further, QALYs have limited applicability here because, as a short term supportive treatment, epoetin enhances the quality but not the length of life. Future research would benefit from the establishment of consistent values for quality-of-life changes across patients and health status, and the extension of the QALY framework to supportive care.
Pharmacoeconomics, Anaemia, Epoetin-alfa, Quality-adjusted-life-years, Cost-utility, Antianaemics, Cancer
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