Carmustine Implants for the Treatment of Newly Diagnosed High-Grade Gliomas
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High-grade gliomas are aggressive brain tumours that are extremely challenging to treat effectively. The intracranial implantation of carmustine wafers (BCNU-W), which delivers chemotherapy directly to the affected area, may prolong survival in this population. However, no attention has yet been paid to the economic implications of BCNU-W in this setting.
To investigate the cost effectiveness of BCNU-W as an adjunct to surgery followed by radiotherapy, compared with surgery plus radiotherapy alone. Newly diagnosed, operable grade III and IV gliomas in a population with a mean age of 55 years were considered.
A Markov cost-utility model was developed in Microsoft® Excel, adopting a UK NHS perspective. Transition probabilities and cost data (year 2004 values) were obtained from published literature or expert opinion. The model incorporated utility values, obtained from members of the public, reflecting the quality of life associated with high-grade glioma. The effects of uncertainty were explored through extensive one-way and probabilistic sensitivity analysis.
Surgery with the implantation of BCNU-W followed by radiotherapy costs £54 500 per additional QALY gained when compared with surgery plus radiotherapy alone. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis shows a <10% probability that BCNU-W would be considered cost effective at a willingness-to-pay threshold of £30 000 per QALY. Although model outputs were sensitive to alterations in several key parameters, the incremental cost effectiveness of the intervention remained above £30 000 per QALY in all analyses.
Compared with usual care for the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas, BCNU-W is unlikely to be considered a cost-effective use of healthcare resources when judged by the standards commonly adopted in England and Wales. However, the dreadful prognosis of the condition and the paucity of alternative therapies are additional issues that healthcare commissioners may choose to take into account when considering an adoption decision.
KeywordsBCNU Probabilistic Sensitivity Analysis Gliadel Health State Description Carmustine Wafer
The analysis described in this paper was funded as part of the assessment of carmustine implants for newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas commissioned by the UK NHS Research and Development Health Technology Assessment programme (project number 04/20/01). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Health.
The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study.
The analysis described in this paper was undertaken with expert clinical advice from Professor Michael Brada (Professor of Clinical Oncology, The Royal Marsden Hospital, Surrey); Dr Robin Grant (Consultant Neurologist, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh); Mr Vakis Papanastassiou (Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow). While their input was invaluable in the conception and execution of the analysis, the conclusions drawn here are solely those of the authors.
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