Evidence supports the clinical benefits of early aggressive biologic treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have an inadequate response to conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs), but the cost-effectiveness of early intervention with originator biologics such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFis) or their biosimilars has not been well studied.
We developed a Markov model to estimate lifetime costs and utilities for patients with established RA who do not respond to methotrexate (MTX) therapy. A cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted comparing a standard intervention pathway (addition of originator biologic TNFis to MTX monotherapy at 12 months) and two early intervention pathways (either addition of originator biologic TNFis or addition of biosimilar TNFis to MTX monotherapy at 6 months).
Early intervention with an originator biologic TNFi at 6 months was associated with increases in total lifetime costs of £1692 and utilities of 0.10 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) per patient compared with standard intervention at 12 months, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £17,335/QALY. Early intervention with a biosimilar TNFi increased costs by £70 and utilities by 0.10 QALYs per patient and was associated with an ICER of £713/QALY.
Switching from MTX monotherapy to combination therapy with either an originator biologic or biosimilar TNFis at 6 months after csDMARD failure in patients with RA was cost-effective at a threshold of £30,000/QALY.