A cost-effectiveness decision model for antiepileptic drug treatment in newly diagnosed epilepsy patients
Objective: To establish cost-effectiveness of antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment strategies of newly diagnosed patients with epilepsy. Methods: A decision analysis was carried out comparing effectiveness and treatment cost of six treatment strategies comprising carbamazepine (CBZ), lamotrigine (LTG), and valproate (VPA) as first-line and second-line drugs. Three outcome groups were defined: complete success, partial success, and failure. Data on seizure control and failure due to adverse effects were derived from the literature. Data on resource use and costs were collected for each outcome group by means of a patient survey. Results: Cost data were obtained from 71 patients. Cost increased from complete success to failure outcome groups. The probability of obtaining complete success varied from 64% (VPA-CBZ strategy) to 74% (LTG-VPA strategy). The strategy LTG-VPA was more effective than the least expensive strategy CBZ-VPA, but at higher costs per additional effectively treated patient. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis confirmed these findings to be robust. Subsequent analysis showed that changing inclusion criteria used in the selectionof the studies from the literature had a major effect on cost-effectiveness ratios of the various strategies. The probability that LTG first-line therapy is the most cost-effective option remains small, even defining a high cost-effectiveness threshold. Nevertheless, LTG second-line strategies can be cost-effective depending on the willingness to pay for patient improvement. Conclusions: Only a few studies satisfied our inclusion criteria for employment in our decision model. Our model supports the use of conventional AEDs as first-line options for patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy. LTG second-line therapy is likely to be the most cost-effective option in case society is willing to pay more than €6000 for an additional successfully treated patient. This study also illustrates that, with the data presently available, the outcome of decision analysis for AED treatment choice depends on the inclusion criteria used to select trials. Prospective real-life studies are needed in which first- and second-line treatment strategies are compared with respect to both effectiveness and costs.