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Cost comparison of second-line treatment options for late stage non-small-cell lung cancer: cost analysis for Italy

Authors Schwander B, Ravera, Giuliani, Nuijten M, Walzer S

Received 29 May 2012

Accepted for publication 19 July 2012

Published 3 September 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 237—243


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Bjoern Schwander,1 Simona Ravera,2 Giovanni Giuliani,2 Mark Nuijten,3 Stefan Walzer1

1Assessment-in-Medicine (AiM) GmbH, Loerrach, Germany; 2Roche SpA, Monza, Italy; 3Ars Accessus Medica, Amsterdam (Jisp), Netherlands

Background: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide (1.38 million cancer deaths, 18.2% of the total) and of cancer morbidity (1.61 million new cases, 12.7% of all new cancers). Currently only three second-line non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) pharmacotherapies are licensed in the European Union: the chemotherapies pemetrexed and docetaxel and the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib. These therapy alternatives have shown a comparable efficacy (survival benefit). In the past, cost comparisons showed that erlotinib was less costly compared to docetaxel, which in turn is cheaper than pemetrexed. Nowadays erlotinib (and docetaxel) are still less expensive than pemetrexed; but docetaxel lost patent protection (basic compound patent) at the end of 2010, so docetaxel drug costs have decreased rapidly and the question remains whether erlotinib is still the least costly therapy alternative in second-line NSCLC.
Material and methods: Italy was selected for base case analysis to compare the total therapy costs, estimated by combining country-specific drug costs, administration costs, and adverse event costs of erlotinib and generic docetaxel in second-line NSCLC therapy. Sensitivity analyses on central input parameters have been performed.
Results: The total costs of treating one patient with erlotinib therapy of €5121 are lower than the docetaxel costs of €6699 for the Italian health care setting. Although the drug costs of erlotinib are higher than generic docetaxel (incremental €3770): the costs of intravenous chemotherapy administration (incremental -€4510), and the costs of adverse event therapy (incremental -€837) lead to higher total therapy costs for docetaxel compared to the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy erlotinib.
Conclusion: The cost comparison findings for Italy show that erlotinib is still the less costly therapy alternative in second-line NSCLC. These results were robust to changes of central input parameters and robust to further potential price decreases for docetaxel.

Keywords: erlotinib, docetaxel, non-small-cell lung cancer, pharmacotherapy, cost analysis, Italy

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