Economic cost of male erectile dysfunction using a decision analytic model: for a hypothetical managed-care plan of 100,000 members

Pharmacoeconomics. 2000 Jan;17(1):77-107. doi: 10.2165/00019053-200017010-00006.


Objective: This paper examined the economic cost of male erectile dysfunction (ED) for a hypothetical managed-care (MC) model.

Design and setting: A prevalence-based cost-of-illness approach was used to estimate the direct medical cost for ED treatment. A treatment plan algorithm was developed from a MC perspective to model the initial treatment selection of various patient groups [vacuum erection device, intracavernosal injection (ICI) therapy, transurethral alprostadil suppository, sildenafil, testosterone replacement therapy, penile prosthesis] and their therapy outcomes during a 3-year period. Overall cost was based on 1998 US dollars. Total direct medical cost of ED considered in this model included the cost of initial physician consultation and evaluation, the cost incurred by patients from various treatment groups (pharmacological and surgical options), as well as the cost related to patients' follow-up for treatment within the 3-year period. Consideration for therapy switches made by patients who failed initial therapy was included as part of the clinical assumptions for this model. Treatment response and expected outcomes (dropouts) were considered for the various treatment options.

Participants: A total of 100,000 enrolled members were included in the study.

Main outcome measures and results: The total cost of ED was $US3,204,792 for the 3-year period in the hypothetical MC plan. The treatment portion accounted for approximately 80% of the total cost while the cost of medical services and diagnostic tests were minimal in comparison. The 3 year total cost of nonsurgical treatment was $US2,473,045. Costs associated with each treatment alternative were $US81,866 (testosterone transdermal patch), $US51,930 (vacuum erection device), $US384,624 (ICI therapy), $US226,483 (transurethral alprostadil suppository) and $US1,728,142 (sildenafil citrate). Results from the model showed a noticeable trend of decreasing cost patterns over time and reflected the attrition observed for many of the standard medical therapies for ED.

Conclusions: Sildenafil and the vacuum erection device should be considered as first-line management strategies for ED whereas ICI therapy, transurethral alprostadil suppository and penile prosthesis implant should be reserved for second- or third-line therapy. Because costs associated with switches related to successive treatment failures can be high, treatment considerations should, therefore, focus on achieving long term patient satisfaction. The patient's preferred treatment choice, using goal-directed therapy during the initial consultation and evaluation visit, should be used.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Erectile Dysfunction / economics*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Managed Care Programs / economics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Penile Implantation
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / economics
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Piperazines / economics
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use
  • Prevalence
  • Purines
  • Sildenafil Citrate
  • Sulfones
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Piperazines
  • Purines
  • Sulfones
  • Sildenafil Citrate