Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with an increased risk of clinical upper gastrointestinal tract (UGI) events, namely, symptomatic ulcer, perforation, bleeding, and obstruction. Our objective in this study was to compare the cost-effectiveness of several strategies aimed at reducing the risk of clinical UGI events in NSAID users.
A decision tree model was used for patients requiring long-term treatment with NSAIDs to compare conventional NSAID therapy alone with 7 other treatment strategies to reduce the risk of NSAID-related clinical UGI events (cotherapy with proton-pump inhibitor, cotherapy with misoprostol, cyclooxygenase [COX]-2–selective NSAID therapy, or Helicobacter pylori treatment followed by each of the previous strategies, including conventional NSAID treatment, respectively). The outcome measure is the incremental cost per clinical UGI event prevented compared with conventional NSAID treatment over 1 year.
The use of a COX-2–selective NSAID and cotherapy with proton-pump inhibitors were the 2 most cost-effective strategies. However, the incremental cost associated with these strategies was high (>$35 000) in persons with a low risk of clinical UGI event with conventional NSAIDs (eg, 2.5% per year). If the baseline risk of clinical UGI events is moderately high (eg, 6.5%), using a COX-2–selective NSAID becomes the most effective and least costly (dominant) treatment strategy, followed closely by cotherapy with a daily proton-pump inhibitor. Because small changes in costs or assumed efficacy of these drugs could change the conclusions, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios between any 2 strategies were presented in a nomogram that allows the flexible use of a wide range of values for costs and rates of clinical UGI events.
The risk of clinical UGI events in NSAID users depends on their baseline risk, the added risk associated with the individual NSAID, and the protection conferred by cotherapy. A nomogram can be used to incorporate these factors and derive estimates regarding cost-effectiveness of competing strategies aimed at reducing the risk of clinical UGI events.