Cost-Effectiveness of Cetuximab for Advanced Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma

<div><p>Background</p><p>Costly biologicals in palliative oncology are emerging at a rapid pace. For example, in patients with advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma addition of cetuximab to a palliative chemotherapy regimen appears to improve survival. However, it simultaneously results in higher costs. We aimed to determine the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of adding cetuximab to first-line chemotherapeutic treatment of patients with advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, based on data from a randomized controlled phase II trial.</p><p>Methods</p><p>A cost effectiveness analysis model was applied based on individual patient data. It included only direct medical costs from the health-care perspective. Quality-adjusted life-years and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated. Sensitivity analysis was performed by a Monte Carlo analysis.</p><p>Results</p><p>Adding cetuximab to a cisplatin-5-fluorouracil first-line regimen for advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma resulted in an the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of €252,203 per quality-adjusted life-year. Sensitivity analysis shows that there is a chance of less than 0.001 that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio will be less than a maximum willingness to pay threshold of €40,000 per quality-adjusted life-year, which is representative for the threshold used in The Netherlands and other developed countries.</p><p>Conclusions</p><p>Addition of cetuximab to a cisplatin-5-fluorouracil first-line regimen for advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is not cost-effective when appraised according to currently accepted criteria. Cost-effectiveness analyses using outcome data from early clinical trials (<i>i</i>.<i>c</i>. a phase II trial) enable pharmaceutical companies and policy makers to gain early insight into whether a new drug meets the current eligibility standards for reimbursement and thereby potential admittance for use in regular clinical practice.</p></div>