Michael K. Gould, MD, MSc; Anne D. Dembitzer, MD; Gillian D. Sanders, PhD; Alan M. Garber, MD, PhD
Gould MK, Dembitzer AD, Sanders GD, Garber AM. Low-Molecular-Weight Heparins Compared with Unfractionated Heparin for Treatment of Acute Deep Venous Thrombosis: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. Ann Intern Med. 1999;130:789-799. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-130-10-199905180-00002
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1999;130(10):789-799.
Low-molecular-weight heparins are effective for treating venous thrombosis, but their cost-effectiveness has not been rigorously assessed.
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of low-molecular-weight heparins compared with unfractionated heparin for treatment of acute deep venous thrombosis.
Probabilities for clinical outcomes were obtained from a meta-analysis of randomized trials. Cost estimates were derived from Medicare reimbursement and other sources.
Two hypothetical cohorts of 60-year-old men with acute deep venous thrombosis.
Fixed-dose low-molecular-weight heparin or adjusted-dose unfractionated heparin.
Costs, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. An inpatient hospital setting was used for the base-case analysis. Secondary analyses examined outpatient treatment with low-molecular-weight heparin.
Total costs for inpatient treatment were $26 516 for low-molecular-weight heparin and $26 361 for unfractionated heparin. The cost of initial care was higher in patients who received low-molecular-weight heparin, but this was partly offset by reduced costs for early complications. Low-molecular-weight heparin treatment increased quality-adjusted life expectancy by approximately 0.02 years. The incremental cost-effectiveness of inpatient low-molecular-weight heparin treatment was $7820 per QALY gained. Treatment with low-molecular-weight heparin was cost saving when as few as 8% of patients were treated at home.
When late complications were assumed to occur 25% less frequently in patients who received unfractionated heparin, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio increased to almost $75 000 per QALY gained. When late complications were assumed to occur 25% less frequently in patients who received low-molecular-weight heparin, this treatment resulted in a net cost savings. Inpatient low-molecular-weight heparin treatment became cost saving when its pharmacy cost was reduced by 31% or more, when it reduced the yearly incidence of late complications by at least 7%, when as few as 8% of patients were treated entirely as outpatients, or when at least 13% of patients were eligible for early discharge.
Low-molecular-weight heparins are highly cost-effective for inpatient management of venous thrombosis. This treatment reduces costs when small numbers of patients are eligible for outpatient management.
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Hospital Medicine, Venous Thromboembolism, Healthcare Delivery and Policy.
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