Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common pathogen that is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections in young children. High-risk children are at risk of severe infection, which may require hospitalisation. RSV is also associated with a high risk for respiratory morbidity and mortality, which may have long-term clinical and economic consequences. Objective: To assess the cost effectiveness of palivizumab, a humanised monoclonal antibody, used as prevention against severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection requiring hospitalisation, in the indication of preterm infants and infants with preterm/bronchopulmonary dysplasia and in the second indication of children with congenital heart disease in the Dutch healthcare setting. Methods: A decision-tree model was used to estimate the cost effectiveness of palivizumab, used as a preventative treatment against severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, in high-risk groups of children in the Netherlands. The analysis was based on a lifetime follow-up period in order to capture the impact of palivizumab on long-term morbidity and mortality resulting from an RSV infection. Data sources included published literature, the palivizumab pivotal trials, official price/tariff lists and national population statistics. The study was conducted from the perspective of society in the Netherlands. Results: The use of palivizumab results in undiscounted incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of €12,728/QALY and €4,256/QALY in the in preterm/bronchopulmonary dysplasia and congenital heart disease indications, respectively. Inclusion of indirect costs leads to even more favourable cost-effectiveness outcomes. The study is limited by a number of conservative assumptions. It was assumed that palivizumab only affects the occurrence of RSV hospitalisation and does not influence the severity of the RSV infection. Another assumption was that international clinical trial data and data on utilities could be applied to the Dutch healthcare setting. Conclusion: Palivizumab provides cost-effective prophylaxis against RSV in high-risk infants. The use of palivizumab in these children results in positive short- and long-term health-economic benefits.

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Journal of Medical Economics
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Nuijten, M., Lebmeier, M., & Wittenberg, W. (2009). Cost effectiveness of palivizumab for RSV prevention in high-risk children in the Netherlands. Journal of Medical Economics, 12(4), 291–300. doi:10.3111/13696990903316961