Economic Burden of Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Abt Bio-Pharma Solutions, Inc., Lexington, Massachusetts, USA.
PharmacoEconomics (Impact Factor: 2.45). 02/2009; 27(8):657-79. DOI: 10.2165/11314820-000000000-00000
Source: PubMed


Follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (FNHL), a slow-growing cancer of the immune system, constitutes about 15–30% of all incident non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in developed countries. Its incidence is rising worldwide. Patients can live many years, but FNHL is considered incurable. We systematically reviewed the English-language MEDLINE-indexed and non-indexed economic literature published in the past 10 years on FNHL, identifying 23 primary economic studies.
The economic burden of FNHL is significant, but available data are generally limited to retrospective considerations of hospital-based direct treatment costs, with little information available regarding societal cost of illness. Most direct cost information originates from the US, with one estimate of $US36 000 for the per-patient incremental cost of FNHL care during the first year following diagnosis. The most studied treatment is rituximab, which may offer similar overall costs to fludarabine considering higher resource use with fludarabine complications. Nearly all cost-effectiveness models identified by this review evaluated rituximab for relapsed/refractory FNHL responding to chemotherapy induction. Rituximab is supported as a cost-effective addition to standard chemotherapy by two models in the UK and one in the US, as maintenance therapy instead of stem-cell transplant by one UK model, and as maintenance therapy instead of observation alone by one model each in France, Spain and Canada. The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence updated guidance on rituximab in February 2008, concluding that it is cost effective when added to induction chemotherapy, and when used as maintenance therapy.
No studies of per-patient or national indirect costs of illness were identified, with the only study of indirect costs a Canadian survey documenting lost work productivity. Across all study types identified by our review, the most common focus was on the direct costs of rituximab. As new treatments for FNHL come to market, more real-life cost data are imperative to calculate their relative cost effectiveness.

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