Objective: To systematically review all published economic analyses of the only 2 available agents for respiratory syncytial virus immunoprophylaxis in high-risk infants: respiratory syncytial virus immunoglobulin intravenous and palivizumab.
Data sources: Economic evaluations of respiratory syncytial virus immunoprophylactic agents were identified from the MEDLINE and HealthSTAR databases using various combinations of the following search terms: respiratory syncytial virus immunoglobulin intravenous, palivizumab, cost, and cost-effectiveness. The search was limited to articles published in English between January 1, 1990, and August 31, 2001. Additional studies were obtained by searching bibliographies of all relevant identified articles.
Study selection: Only studies that performed an economic analysis of either or both of these agents in an infant population were included. Letters to the editor and commentaries that included informal economic analyses were excluded. Twelve of the 21 identified studies met the selection criteria.
Data extraction: Two of us (S.K.-B. and J.D.) independently reviewed the articles and extracted summary information using a standardized abstraction form, with differences resolved by consensus.
Data synthesis: Estimates ranging from cost savings to considerable incremental costs per hospitalization avoided with use of either agent were observed across studies. Studies comparing the 2 agents reported mixed results about their relative cost-effectiveness in different infant subgroups. The divergent results may be explained by differences in the study methods and assumptions, but they also reflect the poor quality of some of the economic analyses.
Conclusion: In light of the issues identified in this review, providers, payers, and health policymakers need to critically appraise and judiciously interpret cost-effectiveness research on these agents.