Respiratory syncytial virus immune globulin: decisions and costs

L L Barton, K L Grant, R J Lemen
Pediatric Pulmonology 2001, 32 (1): 20-8
A decision analysis was used to evaluate the economic effectiveness of respiratory syncytial virus immune globulin (RSVIG) prophylaxis on selected pediatric populations at risk for developing RSV bronchiolitis or all respiratory illness-related hospitalizations. We compared costs, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of administering RSVIG to no treatment in different pediatric populations, including those at risk of developing RSV-bronchiolitis and those at risk of developing any respiratory illness-related hospitalization. We observed that if only infants at high risk of severe RSV infections received treatment with RSVIG, a calculated cost saving of about 27,000 dollars per hospitalization prevented were realized. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved indications for RSVIG were followed, the cost to prevent one hospitalization due to RSV bronchiolitis would be over 53,000 dollars. If the aim, however, was to prevent all respiratory illness-related hospitalizations for this broader population, a much lower cost (4,000 dollars) to prevent one hospitalization would result. In this situation, cost neutrality was possible, with a therapy cost of 2,843 dollars compared to the actual average therapy cost of 4,444 dollars. Sensitivity analysis showed that the model was relatively insensitive to all variables, with the exceptions of costs related to RSVIG and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions. We conclude that RSVIG resulted in cost savings if therapy were reserved for the infants who are at highest risk for developing severe RSV infections. RSVIG is not cost-effective for preventing RSV bronchiolitis when used according to the FDA-approved indications. Education that emphasizes frequent hand-washing, avoidance of passive smoking, and lessening exposure to sick children remains the least expensive prevention tool.

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