Objective: The purpose of this study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of beta-blocker therapy with either metoprolol or carvedilol in addition to conventional therapy for patients with heart failure (HF) in Canada.
Design: A Markov simulation was used to estimate the costs and life expectancy for treating patients with conventional therapy alone and with the addition of metoprolol or carvedilol. Although carvedilol has been marketed in Canada since 1999, metoprolol succinate has yet to be marketed there, so the price is unknown. Therefore we input a Canadian price based on the price ratio of the 2 drugs in the United States.
Results: For subjects aged 60 years at HF onset, the expected years of life are 4.53 years for those treated with conventional therapy alone, 5.70 years for those who receive conventional therapy plus metoprolol, and 6.21 years for those who receive conventional therapy plus carvedilol. The expected costs (in 1999 Canadian dollars) are $8,989, $13,833, and $18,114, respectively. This yields incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for metoprolol relative to conventional therapy alone of $4,140 per life-year gained, and for carvedilol relative to metoprolol, the ICER is $8,394 per life-year gained.
Conclusions: In addition to conventional therapy with furosemide and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, treatment with either metoprolol or carvedilol confers a survival benefit that is attractive from a cost-effectiveness point of view. Until better information becomes available, it is not possible to distinguish between the two beta-blockers on the basis of cost-effectiveness. This means that the choice of beta-blockers for HF should be based largely on clinical considerations because both beta-blockers prolong life at relatively low cost.