Low-molecular-weight heparins compared with unfractionated heparin for treatment of acute deep venous thrombosis. A cost-effectiveness analysis

Journal Article

Background: Low-molecular-weight heparins are effective for treating venous thrombosis, but their costeffectiveness has not been rigorously assessed. Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of low molecular- weight heparins compared with unfractionated heparin for treatment of acute deep venous thrombosis. Design: Decision model. Data Sources: Probabilities for clinical outcomes were obtained from a meta-analysis of randomized trials. Cost estimates were derived from Medicare reimbursement and other sources. Target Population: Two hypothetical cohorts of 60-year-old men with acute deep venous thrombosis. Time Horizon: Patient lifetime. Perspective: Societal. Intervention: Fixed-dose low-molecular-weight heparin or adjusted- dose unfractionated heparin. Outcome Measures: 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. Results of Base-Case Analysis: 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. Results of Sensitivity Analysis: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gould, MK; Dembitzer, AD; Sanders, GD; Garber, AM

Published Date

  • 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 130 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 789 - 799

PubMed ID

  • 10366368

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-4819