BACKGROUND: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of respiratory infection that is highly prevalent in infants. Severe cases of RSV infection require hospitalisation; this is most likely to occur in infant populations at high risk. The study assesses the cost-effectiveness of palivizumab versus no prophylaxis in infants at high risk of hospitalisation with RSV in the United Kingdom (UK).
METHODS: A decision tree model was developed to reflect the clinical pathway of infants at high risk of severe RSV infection who receive either prophylaxis with palivizumab or no prophylaxis. The main outcome was the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to assess the degree of uncertainty surrounding the results. A threshold analysis considered the impact of clinical and environmental risk factors on the cost-effectiveness in the subgroup of preterm infants 33-35 weeks gestational age (wGA).
RESULTS: Prophylaxis with palivizumab compared with no prophylaxis is associated with the following ICERs; £33,216 for infants with congenital heart disease; £19,168 for infants with chronic lung disease; £3,845 for preterm infants < 29 wGA; £30,205 for preterm infants 29-32 wGA; and £99,056 for preterm infants 33-35 wGA. One-way sensitivity analysis suggests that these results are highly sensitive to the input data. Threshold analysis in the preterm 33-35 wGA subgroup demonstrates that an adjusted RSV-hospitalisation baseline risk of 17.94% or higher would result in an ICER below the £30,000 per quality-adjusted life-year threshold.
DISCUSSION: Palivizumab is cost-effective compared to no prophylaxis in the United Kingdom in many of the subgroups considered, showing that palivizumab would be a cost-effective use of National Health Service resources.
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