A novel approach to maintain planned dose chemotherapy on time: a decision-making tool to improve patient care.
Studies of primary prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia with recombinant granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (r-metHuG-CSF, filgrastim), administered to all patients starting with the initial course of chemotherapy, have demonstrated an economic advantage over a wide range of settings. In these analyses, the threshold risk for febrile neutropenia at which a cost saving is realised is inversely related to the direct medical costs of hospitalisation. Clinical practice guidelines for the use of filgrastim have been developed based on these observations. Recent studies incorporating indirect institutional costs have demonstrated that cost savings can be achieved at substantially lower febrile neutropenia risk thresholds than previously estimated. Despite the demonstrated efficacy of filgrastim in primary prophylaxis, its value may be further enhanced through the appropriate selection of patients for such therapy and a better understanding of the importance of sustaining dose intensity in specific malignancies. Clinical prediction models capable of identifying individuals at high risk for neutropenic complications yield further reductions in febrile neutropenia risk thresholds and treatment costs in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. Prediction models can also be used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness or cost-efficiency of filgrastim use. Such a model has recently been developed and validated and is described here which incorporates both baseline clinical characteristics as well as the results of the first cycle of chemotherapy in patients with early-stage breast cancer. A cost-effectiveness ratio of US$ 34297 (Euro 32002)dagger per year of life saved (YLS) was calculated based on dose-response assumptions derived from a previously reported adjuvant breast cancer trial studying the impact of dose reduction on disease-free survival. This figure is comparable with accepted cost-effectiveness ratios for other interventions, e.g. US$ 45000/LYS (Euro 41989) for renal dialysis for patients with end-stage renal disease. The cost-effectiveness of filgrastim was evident over a wide range of clinical and cost assumptions. Clinical prediction models permit rational and cost-effective selection of patients for filgrastim support. Current guidelines should be re-evaluated in light of new information available on both the total cost of febrile neutropenia, as well as the cost-effectiveness of these agents in specific clinical situations.
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