, Volume 21, Issue 16, pp 1153-1169
Date: 22 Sep 2012

Cost-utility analysis of survival with epoetin-alfa versus placebo in stage IV breast cancer

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Background: In a multinational trial of anaemic patients with cancer receiving nonplatinum-containing chemotherapy, epoetin-alfa effectively increased haemoglobin levels, reduced red blood cell transfusion requirements, and improved QOL. Although the study was not designed or powered to evaluate survival, a survival trend was noted favouring epoetin-alfa compared with placebo (median survival 17 vs 11 months [p = 0.126]).
Objectives: To determine the incremental cost utility of epoetin-alfa versus placebo in anaemic patients with stage IV breast cancer from a UK National Health Service perspective.
Methods: Patient data regarding transfusions, epoetin-alfa usage, chemotherapy treatment cycles, and adverse events were recorded, with survival follow-up for 12–36 months post-study. Stage IV breast cancer therapy costs were collected by surveying UK oncologists, and utilities for associated health states were from published sources. Costs were in British pounds and year 2000 values. Costs and benefits were jointly determined for the stage IV breast cancer subgroup (n = 55). Incremental cost-utility ratios (ICURs) were calculated assuming a 6% annual discount rate for costs and a 1.5% annual discount rate for benefits. Bootstrap simulations (10 000 iterations) were conducted to account for uncertainty, and sensitivity analyses were conducted to establish robustness.
Results: The ICUR for epoetin-alfa treatment was £8851 per QALY, with a 99% probability of a positive net benefit in QALYs (net benefit = 0.4805 years of perfect life) and a 94% probability of being acceptable using a threshold ICUR of £30 000/QALY. The main cost drivers distinguishing epoetin-alfa from placebo were the costs of drug and patient care due to increased survival.
Conclusions: The available data suggest a high probability of favourable costutility outcomes with epoetin-alfa treatment for anaemia in patients with stage IV breast cancer receiving nonplatinum-containing chemotherapy. Additional studies are warranted.