Cost-utility analysis of de-escalating biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Autoři: Benjamin Birkner aff001;  Jürgen Rech aff002;  Tom Stargardt aff001
Působiště autorů: Hamburg Center for Health Economics (HCHE), Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany aff001;  Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Department of Internal Medicine 3 – Rheumatology and Immunology, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article



Recent guideline updates have suggested de-escalating DMARDs when patients with rheumatoid arthritis achieve remission or low disease activity. We aim to evaluate whether it is cost-effective to de-escalate the biological form of DMARDs (bDMARDs).


Using a Markov model, we performed a cost-utility analysis for RA patients on bDMARD treatment. We compared continuing treatment (standard care) to a tapering approach (i.e., an immediate 50% dose reduction), withdrawal (i.e., an immediate 100% dose reduction) and tapering followed by withdrawal of bDMARDs. The parametrization is based on a comprehensive literature review. Results were computed for 30 years with a cycle length of three months. We applied the payer’s perspective for Germany and conducted deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses.


Tapering or withdrawing bDMARD treatment resulted in ICERs of €526,254 (incr. costs -78,845, incr. QALYs -0.1498) or €216,879 (incr. costs -€121,691, incr. QALYs -0.5611) compared to standard care. Tapering followed by withdrawal resulted in a loss of 0.4354 QALYs and savings of €107,969 per patient, with an ICER of €247,987. Deterministic sensitivity analysis revealed that our results remained largely unaffected by parameter changes. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis suggests that tapering, withdrawal and tapering followed by withdrawal were dominant in 39.8%, 28.2% and 29.0% of 10,000 iterations.


Our findings suggest that de-escalating bDMARDs in patients with RA may result in high cost savings but also a decrease in quality of life compared to standard care. If decision makers choose to implement de-escalation in daily practice, our results suggest the tapering approach.

Klíčová slova:

Markov models – Rheumatoid arthritis – Drug therapy – Quality of life – Germany – NSAIDs – Randomized controlled trials


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