Therapeutic Options for the Prevention and Treatment of Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting: A Pharmacoeconomic Review
Even with the development of the serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonists in recent years, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) remains a significant concern for clinicians and patients. For the selection of an appropriate antiemetic strategy for PONV, economic considerations should be taken into account. A literature search covering the period from September 1996 to August 2005 yielded 16 economic evaluations on antiemetics used for the prevention or treatment of PONV. In these studies, a variety of different antiemetic regimens were evaluated, with different doses and timing of administration, in many different populations, for various types of surgery, and in different settings. In addition, there were many differences in the design of these economic evaluations in terms of the extent of the costs considered and the decision rules used when forming conclusions. Therefore, despite the availability of economic evaluations on antiemetics in PONV, it is difficult to draw clear conclusions with such disparate information. In spite of these limitations, key learning can be drawn from these economic evaluations. From studies where a placebo was used as a comparator, we can conclude that there is clinical benefit in using an antiemetic for the prevention of PONV versus no therapy. The dose of the 5-HT3 receptor antagonist seems more important in determining cost effectiveness than the selection of the agent itself, and less expensive agents such as droperidol, dexamethasone and prochlorperazine may also represent cost-effective alternatives to 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. In an additional six studies where a willingness to pay (WTP) to avoid or reduce the incidence of PONV was estimated, the average WTP amounts varied from $US29 to $US117. Many questions remain unanswered about the cost effectiveness of existing antiemetics and their regimens, and little is known about the impact of new agents, such as the neurokinin-1 receptor antagonists, in the control of PONV.
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