A systematic review and economic model of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of immunosuppressive therapy for renal transplantation in children

G Yao, E Albon, Y Adi, D Milford, S Bayliss, A Ready, J Raftery, R S Taylor
Health Technology Assessment: HTA 2006, 10 (49): iii-iv, ix-xi, 1-157

OBJECTIVES: To review the clinical and cost-effectiveness of basiliximab, daclizumab, tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), mycophenolate sodium (MPS) and sirolimus as possible immunosuppressive therapies for renal transplantation in children.

DATA SOURCES: Electronic databases were searched up to November 2004.

REVIEW METHODS: Data from selected studies were extracted and quality assessed. An economic model [Birmingham Sensitivity Analysis paediatrics (BSAp)] was produced based on an adaptation of a model previously developed for the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of immunosuppressants in adults following renal transplant.

RESULTS: For the addition of basiliximab, one unpublished paediatric randomised control trial (RCT), reported that the addition of basiliximab to tacrolimus-based triple therapy (BTAS) failed to significantly improve 6-month biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR), graft function, graft loss and all-cause mortality. No significant difference between groups was seen in 6-month or 1-year or longer graft loss, all-cause mortality and side-effects. In a meta-analysis of adult RCTs, the addition of basiliximab to a ciclosporin, azathioprine and steroid regimen (CAS) significantly reduced short-term BPAR. There was no significant difference in short- or long-term graft loss, all-cause mortality or side-effects. One adult RCT was included for the addition of daclizumab to CAS, which reported reduced 1-year BPAR, although no difference between groups was seen in either 1- or 3-year graft loss, all-cause mortality and side-effects. For tacrolimus versus ciclosporin, one unpublished paediatric RCT found that a regimen of tacrolimus, azathioprine and a steroid (TAS) reduced 6-month BPAR and improved graft function [glomerular filtration rate (GFR)] compared with CAS. This improvement in BPAR with tacrolimus was as shown in the meta-analysis of adult RCTs. There was evidence, particularly in children, that in comparison with ciclosporin, tacrolimus may reduce long-term graft loss, although there is no benefit on total mortality. The total level of withdrawal in children was reduced in children receiving tacrolimus. Adult RCTs showed an increase in post-transplant diabetes mellitus with tacrolimus. For MMF versus azathioprine, a meta-analysis of adult RCTs showed MMF [regimen of ciclosporin, MMF and a steroid (CMS)] to reduce 1-year BPAR compared with azathioprine (CAS). There was evidence, particularly in children, that in comparison with azathioprine, tacrolimus may reduce long-term graft loss, although there is no benefit on total mortality. There was an increase in the level of cytomegalovirus infection with MMF, although the overall level of withdrawal due to adverse events was not different to that of azathioprine-treated adults. No study comparing MPS with azathioprine (CAS) was identified. In an adult RCT comparing MMF with MPS, there was no significant difference between groups in 1-year efficacy or side-effects. One unpublished paediatric RCT assessed the addition of sirolimus to CAS. BPAR, graft loss and all-cause mortality were not reported. In two adult RCTs, compared with azathioprine, sirolimus reduced 1-year BPAR, reduced graft function (as assessed by an increased serum creatinine) and increased the level of hyperlipidaemia. No significant differences were seen in other efficacy and side-effect outcomes. On an adult RCT comparing sirolimus with ciclosporin, there were no significant differences between groups in 1-year efficacy or side-effects with the exception of an increased level of hyperlipidaemia with sirolimus substitution. Both the assessment group and drug companies assessed the cost-effectiveness of the newer renal immunosuppressants currently licensed in children using an adaptation (BSAp) of the Birmingham Sensitivity Analysis (BSA) model. This model is based on a 10-year extrapolation of 1-year BPAR results sourced from paediatric RCTs or adult RCTs (where paediatric RCTs were not available). The addition of basiliximab and that of daclizumab to CAS was found to increase quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and decreased overall costs, a finding that was robust to sensitivity analyses. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of replacing ciclosporin with tacrolimus was highly sensitive to the selection of the hazard ratio for graft loss from acute rejection, dialysis costs and the incorporation (or not) of side-effects. The ICERs for tacrolimus versus ciclosporin ranged from about 46,000 pounds/QALY to about 146,000 pounds/QALY. Although sensitive to varying the hazard ratio for graft loss with acute rejection, the ICER for replacing azathioprine with MMF remained in excess of 55,000 pounds/QALY.

CONCLUSIONS: In general, compared with a regimen of ciclosporin, azathioprine and steroid, the newer immunosuppressive agents consistently reduced the incidence of short-term biopsy-proven acute rejection. However, evidence of the impact on side-effects, long-term graft loss, compliance and overall health-related quality of life is limited. Cost-effectiveness was estimated based on the relationship between short-term acute rejection levels from RCTs and long-term graft loss. Both the addition of daclizumab and that of basiliximab were found to be dominant strategies, that is, regarding cost savings and increased QALYs. The incremental cost-effectiveness of tacrolimus relative to ciclosporin was highly sensitive to key model parameter values and therefore may well be a cost-effective strategy. The incremental cost-effectiveness of MMF compared with azathioprine, although also sensitive to model parameter, was unattractive. There is a particular need for RCTs to assess the use of MMF, MPS and daclizumab for renal transplantation in children where no such evidence currently exists. Future comparative studies need to report not only on the impact of the newer immunosuppressants on short- and long-term clinical outcomes but also on side-effects, compliance, healthcare resource, costs and health-related quality of life.

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