Cost-effectiveness of oral anticoagulants for treatment of atrial fibrillation

William J Canestaro, Amanda R Patrick, Jerry Avorn, Kouta Ito, Olga S Matlin, Troyen A Brennan, William H Shrank, Niteesh K Choudhry
Circulation. Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 2013, 6 (6): 724-31

BACKGROUND: New anticoagulants may improve health outcomes in patients with atrial fibrillation, but it is unclear whether their use is cost-effective.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A Markov state transition was created to compare 4 therapies: dabigatran 150 mg BID, apixaban 5 mg BID, rivaroxaban 20 mg QD, and warfarin therapy. The population included those with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation who were eligible for treatment with warfarin. Compared with warfarin, apixaban, rivaroxaban, and dabigatran, costs were $93 063, $111 465, and $140 557 per additional quality-adjusted life year gained, respectively. At a threshold of $100 000 per quality-adjusted life year, apixaban provided the greatest absolute benefit while still being cost-effective, although warfarin would be superior if apixaban was 2% less effective than expected. Although apixaban was the optimal strategy in our base case, in probabilistic sensitivity analysis, warfarin was optimal in an equal number of iterations at a cost-effectiveness threshold of $100 000 per quality-adjusted life year.

CONCLUSIONS: While at a standard cost-effectiveness threshold of $100 000 per quality-adjusted life year, apixaban seems to be the optimal anticoagulation strategy; this finding is sensitive to assumptions about its efficacy and cost. In sensitivity analysis, warfarin seems to be the optimal choice in an equal number of simulations. As a result, although all the novel oral anticoagulants produce greater quality-adjusted life expectancy than warfarin, they may not represent good value for money.

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