The National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group CO.17 study showed that patients with advanced colorectal cancer had improved overall survival when cetuximab, an epidermal growth factor receptor–targeting antibody, was given in addition to best supportive care. We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis using prospectively collected resource utilization and health utility data for patients in the CO.17 study who received cetuximab plus best supportive care (N = 283) or best supportive care alone (N = 274).
Direct medical resource utilization data were collected, including medications, physician visits, toxicity management, blood products, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations. Mean survival times for the study arms were calculated for the entire population and for the subset of patients with wild-type KRAS tumors over an 18- to 19-month period. All costs were presented in 2007 Canadian dollars. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analysis was used to determine the robustness of the results. Cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were determined. The 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios and the incremental cost–utility ratios were estimated by use of a nonparametric bootstrapping method (with 1000 iterations).
For the entire study population, the mean improvement in overall and quality-adjusted survival with cetuximab was 0.12 years and 0.08 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), respectively. The incremental cost with cetuximab compared with best supportive care was $23 969. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $199 742 per life-year gained (95% CI = $125 973 to $652 492 per life-year gained) and the incremental cost–utility ratio was $299 613 per QALY gained (95% CI = $187 440 to $898 201 per QALY gained). For patients with wild-type KRAS tumors, the incremental cost with cetuximab was $33 617 and mean gains in overall and quality-adjusted survival were 0.28 years and 0.18 QALYs, respectively. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $120 061 per life-year gained (95% CI = $88 679 to $207 075 per life-year gained) and the incremental cost–utility ratio was $186 761 per QALY gained (95% CI = $130 326 to $334 940 per QALY gained). In a sensitivity analysis, cetuximab cost and patient survival were the only variables that influenced cost-effectiveness.
The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of cetuximab over best supportive care alone in unselected advanced colorectal cancer patients is high and sensitive to drug cost. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were lower when the analysis was limited to patients with wild-type KRAS tumors.