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Although imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) is the standard of care for patients with metastatic or unresectable gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), few studies have examined its cost-effectiveness in treating this disorder. Canadian and American economists examined the cost-effectiveness of imatinib as treatment for advanced GIST from a Canadian third-party payer perspective. They recently presented their findings at the ESMO annual meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.
Results of a 52-month phase III trial served as the source of survival and cost information for this evaluation. Researchers found that acquisition costs for imatinib, costs for GIST-related medical services, and costs for palliative care for patients with end-stage GIST accounted for the bulk of medical expenditures.
The study estimated quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and expenditures over a 10-year period, discounting all costs and QALYs by 5% annually. Based on a mean life expectancy gain of 2.7 years for patients treated with imatinib, they calculated the cost-effectiveness of imatinib at $45,284 per QALY. Based on the commonly accepted threshold for cost-effectiveness of $50,000 per QALY, the authors concluded that imatinib is a cost-effective treatment for patients with metastatic or unresectable GIST. They reported that a sensitivity analysis did not materially change these findings.
El-Ouagari K, Huse DM. Cost-effectiveness of imatinib in the treatment of advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST): Canadian perspective. Paper Presented at: the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology; September 2008; Stockholm, Sweden.