Cost-Effectiveness of Tofacitinib for Patients with Moderate-to-Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis in China



Patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis have a heavy financial burden. The cost-effectiveness of introducing tofacitinib to the current treatment sequence for patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis who have inadequate response or intolerance to conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs-IR) in China remains unknown.


The objective of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of introducing tofacitinib into the current treatment sequence in China for patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis who have csDMARDs-IR.


A Markov model was constructed from the perspective of the Chinese healthcare system to compare treatment sequences with and without first-line tofacitinib for patients with rheumatoid arthritis with csDMARDs-IR. The treatment sequence without tofacitinib included adalimumab, etanercept, recombinant human tumor necrosis factor receptor-Fc fusion protein, infliximab, and tocilizumab. Costs were derived from publicly available sources. Clinical trials, network meta-analysis, and real-world data were used to generate quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), transition probabilities, and the incidence of adverse events. Mortality probabilities were estimated from rheumatoid arthritis-based, Chinese all-cause mortality data. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were conducted to verify the robustness of the model. In addition, the cost-effectiveness of adding tofacitinib as second- and third-line treatment options was evaluated in our analyses. Costs and effects were discounted at 5% per anum.


Compared to the current treatment sequence, adding tofacitinib as first-line treatment led to a cost-saving of $US880.11 (2018 values) and incremental QALYs of 1.34. Sensitivity analyses showed the results to be robust. Adding tofacitinib at second-line therapy was also a cost-saving option with a cost saving of $US653.65 and incremental QALYs of 1.34, while the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of adding tofacitinib at third-line therapy was $US5588.14 per QALY gained.


Using the WHO-recommended ICER acceptability threshold of ≤ 1-time per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), our analysis suggests that the introduction of tofacitinib into the current treatment sequence for moderate-to-severe RA patients with csDMARDs-IR in China was a cost saving option as first- and second-line treatment, and cost-effective as a third-line treatment option. Of note, use of tofacitinib as first- and second-line treatment post-csDMARDs-IR appeared to be cost saving.

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The authors thank Dr. David Gold and Ms. Ming-Ann Hsu from Pfizer, Inc. for their critical review of the manuscript.

Author information




LT and XM constructed the model, collected and analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. QG provided advice on constructing the model from a clinical perspective. LW collected the data. AM was the guarantor of the study and contributed to the design of the study and the analysis and interpretation of the data. YC and PD conceptualized the study and contributed to the revision of the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for the version to be published.

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Correspondence to Aixia Ma.

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This study was funded by Pfizer Investment Co. Ltd (Beijing, China).

Conflict of interest

Yixi Chen and Peng Dong are employees of Pfizer Investment Co. Ltd (Beijing, China). Lei Tian, Xiaomo Xiong, Qiang Guo, Luying Wang, and Aixia Ma have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.

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The authors declare that all data other than market shares of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors in the study are publicly available from the literature, conference abstracts, and governmental public sources as listed in the references section. The data of market shares of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors were provided by Pfizer Investment Co. Ltd (Beijing, China). The Excel models used for the analysis can be provided on reasonable request.

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Tian, L., Xiong, X., Guo, Q. et al. Cost-Effectiveness of Tofacitinib for Patients with Moderate-to-Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis in China. PharmacoEconomics (2020).

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