Cost effectiveness of fluticasone propionate plus salmeterol versus fluticasone propionate plus montelukast in the treatment of persistent asthma

Richard D O'Connor, Harold Nelson, Rohit Borker, Amanda Emmett, Priti Jhingran, Kathleen Rickard, Paul Dorinsky
PharmacoEconomics 2004, 22 (12): 815-25

BACKGROUND: Asthma is a chronic disease, the two main components of which are inflammation and bronchoconstriction. Fluticasone propionate (FP) and salmeterol, a strategy that treats both main components of asthma, has been recently compared with FP plus montelukast in a randomised clinical trial. The present study reports economic evaluation of these two strategies.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the relative cost effectiveness when persistent asthma is treated with FP/salmeterol 100/50 microg twice daily administered via a single Diskus inhaler device versus treatment with FP 100 microg twice daily via a Diskus inhaler plus oral montelukast 10mg once daily.

STUDY DESIGN: A cost-effectiveness analysis was performed by applying cost unit data to resource utilisation data collected prospectively during a US randomised, double-blind, 12-week trial of FP/salmeterol (n = 222) versus FP + montelukast (n = 225). Patients were > or =15 years of age and were symptomatic despite inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Efficacy measurements in this analysis included improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) and symptom-free days. Direct costs included those related to study drugs, emergency room department visits, unscheduled physician visits, treatment of drug-related adverse events (oral candidiasis), and rescue medication (salbutamol [albuterol]). The study assumed a US third-party payer's perspective with costs in 2001 US dollars.

RESULTS: Treatment with FP/salmeterol resulted in a significantly higher proportion (p < 0.001) of patients who achieved a > or =12% increase in FEV(1) than treatment with FP + montelukast (54% [95% CI 47%, 61%] vs 32% [95% CI 26%, 38%]). Lower daily costs and greater efficacy of FP/salmeterol resulted in a cost-effectiveness ratio of US6.77 dollars (95% CI US5.99 dollars, US7.66 dollars) per successfully treated patient in the FP/salmeterol group compared with US14.59 dollars (95% CI US12.12 dollars, US17.77 dollars) for FP + montelukast. In addition, FP/salmeterol achieved similar efficacy in terms of symptom-free days compared with FP + montelukast (31% [95% CI 26%, 35%] vs 27% [95% CI 23%, 32%]), but at a significantly lower daily per-patient cost (US3.64 dollars [95% CI US3.60, US3.68 dollars] vs US4.64 dollars [95% CI US4.56 dollars, US4.73 dollars]). Sensitivity analyses demonstrated the stability of the results over a range of assumptions.

CONCLUSION: From a US third-party payer's perspective, these findings suggest that treating the two main components of asthma (inflammation and bronchoconstriction) with FP/salmeterol may not only be a more cost-effective strategy but may actually lead to cost savings compared with the addition of montelukast to low-dose FP in patients with persistent asthma. The results were found to be robust over a range of assumptions.

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