Pharmacoeconomic Implications of New Therapies in Sepsis
Kelly A. Wood
Derek C. Angus
Severe sepsis is a major healthcare problem, characterised by a high incidence, mortality and cost. New breakthroughs in treatment are quite diverse, including: (i) more effective regimens for generic, inexpensive broad anti-inflammatory agents (corticosteroids); (ii) a recombinant protein (drotrecogin-alfa [activated]); and (iii) a protocol-based treatment approach (early goal-directed therapy). Economic analyses of new sepsis agents should adopt the societal perspective, which requires prolonging the time horizon beyond that currently typically studied in sepsis trials, so that patient-centred outcomes can be more fully captured. Sepsis affects a very diverse group of patients, and if findings are to be generalisable, careful attention must be paid to study entry criteria and differences in effects and costs across different patient subgroups. Existing care patterns for sepsis are also quite diverse, with the consequence that the incremental effects on costs and outcomes could vary widely by practice pattern, again affecting generalisability. Furthermore, many sepsis patients receive multiple other therapies, which together with therapies under study may have varied and unintended, potentially costly or dangerous adverse effects, which could have a large influence on cost-effectiveness estimates. Finally, there are a number of large yet potentially hidden costs of sepsis, such as the long-term costs of managing patients who develop sepsis or the costs of introducing different interventions into clinical practice. Such costs must also be addressed in economic analyses. The search for new anti-sepsis strategies remains vigourous and exciting. We recommend wider incorporation of economic analyses into the study of potential new therapies, with appropriate attention to the caveats discussed above. Clinical demand to use new agents must be balanced against the economic consequences of their use.
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