Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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Cost-Effectiveness of Dabigatran Compared With Warfarin for Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation

Journal Article

James Freeman, Ruo Zhu, Douglas K. Owens, Alan M. Garber, David Hutton, Alan Go, Paul Wang, Mintu Turakhia

Published by
Annals of Internal Medicine, November 1, 2010

Background: Warfarin reduces the risk for ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) but increases the risk for hemorrhage. Dabigatran is a fixed-dose, oral direct thrombin inhibitor with similar or reduced rates of ischemic stroke and intracranial hemorrhage in patients with AF compared with those of warfarin.

Objective: To estimate the quality-adjusted survival, costs, and cost-effectiveness of dabigatran compared with adjusted-dose warfarin for preventing ischemic stroke in patients 65 years or older with nonvalvular AF.

Design: Markov decision model.

Data Sources: The RE-LY (Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy) trial and other published studies of anticoagulation. The cost of dabigatran was estimated on the basis of pricing in the United Kingdom.

Target Population: Patients 65 years or older with nonvalvular AF and risk factors for stroke (CHADS(2) score ≥1 or equivalent) and no contraindications to anticoagulation.

Time Horizon: Lifetime.

Perspective: Societal.

Intervention: Warfarin anticoagulation (target international normalized ratio, 2.0 to 3.0); dabigatran, 110 mg twice daily (low dose); and dabigatran, 150 mg twice daily (high dose).

Outcome Measures: Quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs (in 2008 U.S. dollars), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios.

Results of Base-Case Analysis: The quality-adjusted life expectancy was 10.28 QALYs with warfarin, 10.70 QALYs with low-dose dabigatran, and 10.84 QALYs with high-dose dabigatran. Total costs were $143,193 for warfarin, $164,576 for low-dose dabigatran, and $168,398 for high-dose dabigatran. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios compared with warfarin were $51,229 per QALY for low-dose dabigatran and $45,372 per QALY for high-dose dabigatran.

Results of Sensitivity Analysis: The model was sensitive to the cost of dabigatran but was relatively insensitive to other model inputs. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio increased to $50,000 per QALY at a cost of $13.70 per day for high-dose dabigatran but remained less than $85,000 per QALY over the full range of model inputs evaluated. The cost-effectiveness of high-dose dabigatran improved with increasing risk for stroke and intracranial hemorrhage.

Limitation: Event rates were largely derived from a single randomized clinical trial and extrapolated to a 35-year time frame from clinical trials with approximately 2-year follow-up.

Conclusion: In patients 65 years or older with nonvalvular AF at increased risk for stroke (CHADS(2) score ≥1 or equivalent), dabigatran may be a cost-effective alternative to warfarin depending on pricing in the United States.

Primary Funding Source: American Heart Association and Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development Service.