Bevacizumab plus interferon-α versus sunitinib for first-line treatment of renal cell carcinoma in Italy: a cost-minimization analysis

Roberto Ravasio, Cinzia Ortega, Roberto Sabbatini, Camillo Porta
Clinical Drug Investigation 2011, 31 (7): 507-17

BACKGROUND: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common form of kidney cancer. Immunotherapy with interferon-α (IFNα) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been the historical therapy of choice for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic RCC prior to the more recent development of targeted therapies, including sunitinib and bevacizumab (combined with IFNα). Clinically and statistically significant advantages have been shown with both sunitinib and the combination of bevacizumab + IFNα versus IFNα alone in the treatment of advanced or metastatic RCC. The present study evaluated the incremental costs of bevacizumab + IFNα versus sunitinib for the first-line treatment of advanced or metastatic RCC assuming similar efficacy for these treatments.

METHODS: The efficacy profiles of bevacizumab + IFNα or sunitinib alone have been shown (indirectly) to be similar in patients with RCC; indeed, median progression-free survival (PFS) with either treatment is in the 10- to 11-month range. Therefore, a cost-minimization analysis was performed, focusing on direct medical costs only (drugs, administration and management of adverse events). The analysis considered the perspective of the Italian National Health Service (NHS), comparing the cost of bevacizumab (10 mg/kg) plus IFNα (9, 6 or 3 million IU [MIU]) versus sunitinib (50 mg) as first-line therapies for advanced or metastatic clear-cell RCC. The average cost per treated patient (year 2010 values) was assessed for the two treatment options at 11 months (median PFS).

RESULTS: Assuming a PFS of 11 months for both treatment options, bevacizumab + IFNα (9 MIU) would be a lower cost strategy (cost savings of €2052 per patient) than sunitinib. This difference arises mainly from the reduction in the acquisition cost of bevacizumab to the NHS (risk-sharing agreement). The cost advantages for bevacizumab would increase in parallel with a reduction in IFNα dosing; for example, with IFNα 6 MIU the corresponding cost savings would be €4185, and with 3 MIU the cost advantage would be €6320 per patient.

CONCLUSION: This analysis suggests that bevacizumab + IFNα is a cost-saving alternative to sunitinib in the treatment of first-line metastatic RCC. Its superior safety profile also meant that the cost of managing adverse events was lower for bevacizumab + IFNα than for sunitinib.

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