ABSTRACT: Economic evaluations are increasingly being used by policy makers to evaluate the relative costs and benefits of healthcare interventions. These analyses provide economic and clinical evidence to decision makers seeking to make recommendations on treatment alternatives for patients. This article describes the economic evidence on the atypical antipsychotics currently approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder. This area remains under-researched. A literature search identified only six relevant studies of atypical antipsychotics in bipolar disorder: two retrospective database analyses, three economic analyses alongside clinical trials and one cost-effectiveness analysis. Based on the limited available studies, there appears to be no significant difference in healthcare resource use between olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone and valproate semisodium (divalproex sodium; an antiepileptic drug and a standard treatment for mania associated with bipolar disorder). While a cost-effectiveness study for the UK found haloperidol (a conventional antipsychotic) to be more cost effective than atypical antipsychotics, these results must be considered with caution because of the non-inclusion of adverse effects in the model. No economic data are available for aripiprazole, clozapine or ziprasidone in bipolar disorder. Until more economic evidence becomes available, the economic implications of atypical antipsychotic treatment in patients with bipolar disorder are unlikely to significantly impact on prescribing and treatment patterns. Future economic studies evaluating atypical antipsychotics in bipolar disorder should address the issue of long-term costs and effectiveness to reflect the chronic nature of the disease, the variety of health states that patients may experience and the range of treatments they may receive. A better understanding of the complex interplay between effectiveness, safety, quality of life, adherence and resource use should ultimately contribute to improving the treatment of bipolar disorder.
CNS Drugs 02/2006; 20(7):591-9. · 4.80 Impact Factor