, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 163-174
Date: 11 Feb 2011

Economic evaluation of human papilloma virus vaccination in the European Union: a critical review

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Abstract

The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine is a new and expensive vaccine potentially effective in the prevention of a cancer. We reviewed the economic evaluations (EEs) on the vaccine in the EU to assess their potential contribution to public decision-making in a fairly homogeneous setting where HPV vaccination has been widely adopted. A literature search on PubMed selected EEs on HPV vaccines in the EU for the period 2007–2010 using the terms “HPV vaccines” and “Costs and cost analysis.” Fifteen articles were eventually selected. All studies were based on modelling techniques, either “cohort” or “dynamic transmission”: three were cost utility, three cost-effectiveness, and the remainder included both. The ten studies explicitly assessing one of the two vaccines were all sponsored by their manufacturer, while the five studies unrelated to the vaccine type were funded by public agencies. Apart from two studies, utility estimates were always obtained from three US sources. Direct costs were always vaccination, diagnosis and treatment of related pathologies. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) results were less favourable when life years gained were valued rather than quality-adjusted life years, genital warts were excluded, and booster doses and extension of vaccination to men were included in the base-case analysis. All but one of the sponsored EEs recommend in favour of the vaccination strategy, which is dominant in one English study. The ICER results were very sensitive to discount rates, followed by duration of protection and vaccine price. At such an early stage, when the vaccines’ efficacy have been demonstrated by well-designed studies, it is not possible (and not even reasonable) to wait for several years to measure their effectiveness; public decision-makers might benefit more from EEs designed to indicate sustainable prices using realistic estimates of crucial variables like coverage rates, rather than referring to a large number of assumptions in order to show acceptable cost-effectiveness.