An economic evaluation of early assessment for Alzheimer's disease in the United Kingdom.

United BioSource Corporation, Lexington, MA, USA.
Alzheimer's & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer's Association (Impact Factor: 14.48). 03/2011; 8(1):22-30. DOI:10.1016/j.jalz.2010.07.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Diagnosing and treating patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) at an early stage should improve the quality of life of the patient and caregiver. In the United Kingdom, cost-effectiveness of early assessment of individuals presenting with subjective memory complaints and treating those with AD with donepezil was evaluated.
A discrete event simulation of AD progression and the effect of treatment interventions was developed. Patient-level data from donepezil trials and a 7-year follow-up registry were used to model correlated longitudinal rates of change in cognition, behavior, and function. Other epidemiological and health services data, including estimates of undiagnosed dementia and delays in diagnosis, were based on published sources. Simulated individuals were followed up for 10 years.
In the base-case estimates, 17 patients need to be assessed to diagnose one patient with AD, resulting in an average assessment cost of £4100 ($6000; $1 US = £0.68 UK) per patient diagnosed (2007 cost year). In comparison with a scenario without early assessment or pharmacologic treatment, early assessment reduces health care costs by £3600 ($5300) per patient and societal costs by £7750 ($11,400). Savings are also substantial compared with treatment without early assessment, averaging £2100 ($3100) in health care costs, and £5700 ($8400) in societal costs. Results are most sensitive to estimates of patient care costs and the probability of patients reporting subjective memory complaints. In probabilistic sensitivity analysis, early assessment leads to savings or is highly cost-effective in the majority of cases.
Although early assessment has significant up-front costs, identifying AD patients at an early stage results in cost savings and health benefits compared with no treatment or treatment in the absence of early assessment.

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Dennis Getsios