Zoledronic Acid: A Pharmacoeconomic Review of its Use in the Management of Bone Metastases
Greg L. Plosker
Zoledronic acid (Zometa(R)) is a third-generation nitrogen-containing parenteral bisphosphonate indicated for the treatment of bone metastases due to solid tumours or multiple myeloma and for hypercalcaemia of malignancy (HCM). In patients with advanced breast or prostate cancer, zoledronic acid 4 mg every 3-4 weeks for up to 15 months significantly reduced the proportion of patients with >=1 skeletal-related event (SRE), excluding HCM, compared with placebo. In patients with advanced breast cancer or multiple myeloma, the incidence of SREs was similar in patients treated with zoledronic acid 4 mg or pamidronic acid 90 mg every 3-4 weeks for up to 25 months but, in breast cancer patients, zoledronic acid reduced the risk of SREs, including HCM, by an additional 20% compared with pamidronic acid. In modelled cost-utility studies comparing direct costs based on efficacy and resource-use data from these and/or other trials, results have varied. In the most recent study performed from the perspective of the UK NHS and modelled over a 10-year treatment period in women with advanced breast cancer, intravenous zoledronic acid and oral ibandronic acid were dominant over no treatment. Intravenous zoledronic acid was the most cost effective, in terms of incremental costs per QALY gained, followed by oral ibandronic acid, intravenous pamidronic acid and intravenous ibandronic acid. Two other modelled analyses in patients with advanced breast cancer, also conducted from the perspective of the NHS, evaluated the cost utility of three bisphosphonate therapies in patients receiving hormonal therapy or intravenous chemotherapy. Analyses were modelled over 14.3 months (i.e. expected survival) and assumptions varied markedly from results in clinical breast cancer trials. Also, efficacy assumptions for zoledronic acid were not based on clinical trials with the drug. The results of these analyses suggest that oral ibandronic acid is more cost effective than intravenous zoledronic acid and intravenous pamidronic acid in terms of incremental cost per QALY gained. In a global, 15-month modelled cost-effectiveness analysis of patients with advanced prostate cancer, conducted from a third-party perspective, the incremental cost per QALY gained for zoledronic acid versus no treatment was $US159_200 (year 2000 value), which is about 3-fold greater than commonly accepted thresholds for cost effectiveness. In conclusion, a recent modelled economic analysis suggests that intravenous zoledronic acid 4 mg is dominant relative to no treatment in the management of bone metastases in patients with advanced breast cancer. In contrast, in patients with advanced prostate cancer, the incremental cost per QALY gained for zoledronic acid 4 mg versus no treatment was predicted to be higher than commonly accepted thresholds. Compared with other bisphosphonates in the setting of advanced breast cancer, intravenous zoledronic acid was more cost effective than oral or intravenous ibandronic acid and intravenous pamidronic acid in one study, but less cost effective than oral ibandronic acid in another. Further efficacy and economic data comparing intravenous zoledronic acid with oral ibandronic acid are needed. Meanwhile, zoledronic acid appears to be the most cost effective intravenous bisphosphonate for the management of bone metastases in patients with advanced breast cancer and possibly in patients with different types of advanced solid tumours.
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