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Optimal use of scarce resources is a focus in the healthcare sector, as resources devoted to health care are limited. Costs and health economic analyses can help guide decision-making concerning treatments. One important factor is the choice of cost perspective that can range from focus on narrow drug budget costs to broader economic perspectives. In the case of treatment with oral anticoagulants in patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE), encompassing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, the aim of this cost analysis was to illustrate the differences in costs when applying different cost perspectives. In a cost analysis, pairwise comparisons of average costs of 6 months standard treatment with either a low molecular weight heparin parenteral anticoagulant (LMWH) and a Vitamin K Antagonist (VKA) versus one of the non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants [NOACs; dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban) used in daily clinical practice in Denmark for VTE patients were carried out. Each analysis included the results from five different cost analyses with increasingly broader cost perspectives going from the narrowest "drug cost only" perspective to the broadest "societal" perspective. Focusing on "drug costs only", LMWH/VKA was associated with the lowest costs compared to all NOACs. However, including the economic impact of preventing recurrent VTE and limit bleedings, apixaban and rivaroxaban resulted in slightly lower health care costs than LMWH/VKA. When applying the "societal perspective", the total costs saved with apixaban and rivaroxaban compared to LMWH/VKA further increased, with apixaban having the lowest total costs. The present study's case of oral anticoagulants in VTE treatment illustrated the importance of the cost perspective in the choice of therapy. If decision-making were based on drug costs only, instead of applying a health care sector or societal cost perspective, suboptimal decisions may be likely.
PMID: 31516054 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]