Objective: To investigate the costs to society of Alzheimer disease (AD) care in a multinational, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of donepezil in patients with moderate to severe AD.
Methods: A total of 290 patients with AD (screening standardized Mini-Mental State Examination score 5 to 17) were randomized to receive either donepezil (n = 144; 5 mg/day for 28 days, followed by 10 mg/day as per clinician's judgment) or placebo (n = 146) for 24 weeks. The authors collected data on patient and caregiver health resource utilization prospectively using the Canadian Utilization of Services Tracking questionnaire. Costs were calculated for patients and caregivers in each group based on resource utilization multiplied by the unit prices for each resource. A cost (the average Ontario minimum wage for 1998 [Can 6.85 dollars per hour]) was assigned to unpaid time that caregivers spent assisting the patient with activities of daily living (ADL).
Results: Patient and caregiver demographics at baseline were similar across the two groups. After adjusting for baseline total cost per patient, the mean total societal cost per patient for the 24-week period was donepezil, Can 9,904 dollars (US 6,686 dollars) and placebo, Can 10,236 dollars (US 6,910 dollars). This net cost saving of Can 332 dollars (US 224 dollars) included the average 24-week cost of donepezil treatment. Most of the cost-saving with donepezil treatment was due to less use of residential care by patients, and caregivers spending less time assisting patients with ADL.
Conclusion: This cost-consequence analysis reveals economic benefits of treatment of moderate to severe AD with donepezil.