Carmustine implants for the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas: a cost-utility analysis.
ABSTRACT High-grade gliomas are aggressive brain tumours that are extremely challenging to treat effectively. The intracranial implantation of carmustine wafers (BCNU-W), which delivers chemotherapy directly to the affected area, may prolong survival in this population. However, no attention has yet been paid to the economic implications of BCNU-W in this setting.
To investigate the cost effectiveness of BCNU-W as an adjunct to surgery followed by radiotherapy, compared with surgery plus radiotherapy alone. Newly diagnosed, operable grade III and IV gliomas in a population with a mean age of 55 years were considered.
A Markov cost-utility model was developed in Microsoft Excel, adopting a UK NHS perspective. Transition probabilities and cost data (year 2004 values) were obtained from published literature or expert opinion. The model incorporated utility values, obtained from members of the public, reflecting the quality of life associated with high-grade glioma. The effects of uncertainty were explored through extensive one-way and probabilistic sensitivity analysis.
Surgery with the implantation of BCNU-W followed by radiotherapy costs pound sterling 54 500 per additional QALY gained when compared with surgery plus radiotherapy alone. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis shows a <10% probability that BCNU-W would be considered cost effective at a willingness-to-pay threshold of pound sterling 30 000 per QALY. Although model outputs were sensitive to alterations in several key parameters, the incremental cost effectiveness of the intervention remained above pound sterling 30 000 per QALY in all analyses.
Compared with usual care for the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas, BCNU-W is unlikely to be considered a cost-effective use of healthcare resources when judged by the standards commonly adopted in England and Wales. However, the dreadful prognosis of the condition and the paucity of alternative therapies are additional issues that healthcare commissioners may choose to take into account when considering an adoption decision.