Cost-effectiveness of sequential therapy with tumor necrosis factor antagonists in early rheumatoid arthritis

Andrew Davies, Mary A Cifaldi, Oscar G Segurado, Michael H Weisman
Journal of Rheumatology 2009, 36 (1): 16-26

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the comparative lifetime cost-effectiveness of sequenced therapy with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists as the initial therapeutic intervention for patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: Because patients with RA switch regimens many times throughout the course of disease, sequenced therapeutic interventions were modeled, continuing until the last effective agent failed or death occurred. The model used published clinical outcomes from short-term, randomized controlled trials. Direct treatment costs and costs of lost productivity were modeled for each of 5 alternative treatment sequences. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios are expressed as quality-adjusted lifeyears (QALY) gained.

RESULTS: Treatment sequences that included TNF antagonists produced a greater number of QALY than conventional disease modifying antirheumatic drug regimens alone. The cost-effectiveness of sequenced therapy initiated with adalimumab plus methotrexate (MTX) extendedly dominated both infliximab-plus-MTX-initiated and etanercept sequences. The cost of adalimumab plus MTX per QALY was US $47,157 excluding productivity losses, and $19,663 including productivity losses. A supplementary sequence that incorporated adalimumab-plus-MTX-initiated first-line therapy followed by another TNF antagonist as second-line therapy was modeled; this sequence resulted in additional QALY gained and extendedly dominated all single-TNF strategies.

CONCLUSION: Of the 3 single-TNF antagonist sequences, the adalimumab-plus-MTX-initiated sequence was cost-effective in producing the greatest number of QALY. Multiple TNF strategies, such as the supplementary sequence modeled in this analysis, may be cost-effective in producing even greater health gain.

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