Objectives: To determine the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the administration of intravenous enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) to symptomatic patients for the prevention of long-term damage and symptoms in Fabry's disease and in mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 (MPS1).
Data sources: Electronic databases from inception up to mid-2004. Contact with clinical experts.
Review methods: Relevant studies were identified and assessed using recommended quality criteria.
Results: The results suggested beneficial effects of ERT for Fabry's disease on measures of pain, cardiovascular function and some end-points reflecting neurosensory function. Renal function appeared to be stabilised by ERT. At present there are no utility-related health-related quality of life data on which to assess the relative health gain of ERT in MPS1. In order to be able to demonstrate the full extent of health gain from treatment, it was necessary to review the natural history of untreated patients in each disease in order to try to estimate the health loss prevented. The published information for Fabry's disease tallied with descriptions of a multi-system, life-threatening disorder particularly involving kidney, heart and brain with individual patients exhibiting many manifestations. The fragmentary information reviewed in 16 studies relevant to the natural history of MPS1 did not generate a coherent picture of disease progression and could provide little added value to published narrative reviews. For Fabry's disease, the mean cost per patient (50 kg) treated is around pounds sterling 85,000 per annum in England and Wales. The cost per patient varies considerably by dose. No published evidence reporting an economic evaluation of ERT for Fabry's disease was identified by this review. A dynamic decision model was constructed based on a birth cohort of male patients who are followed up until death. Owing to lack of information reported in the literature, many assumptions had to be applied. The key assumptions were that ERT returns patients to full health and a normal life expectancy. As far as possible, all assumptions favoured rather than detracted from the value of ERT. ERT was assumed to restore patients to full health in the base case. The estimated incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) in the base case was pounds sterling 252,000 per QALY (agalsidase beta). Univariate sensitivity analysis around the key assumptions produced ICERs ranging from pounds sterling 602,000 to pounds sterling 241,000. The base case unit cost of ERT was taken as pounds sterling 65.1/mg based on the cost of agalsidase beta. The unit cost would have had to be reduced to pounds sterling 9 to obtain an ICER of pounds sterling 30,000 per QALY. For MPS1, the mean cost per child patient (20 kg) treated is approximately pounds sterling 95,000 and an adult (70 kg) around pounds sterling 335,000 per annum in England and Wales. The cost per patient varies considerably by dose. There is no published evidence reporting an economic evaluation of ERT for MPS1 and no study was identified that reported the quality of life of MPS1 patients within a utility format. Furthermore, no or minimal information of the severity and rate of change of clinical manifestations of disease or the impact of ERT on these factors was identified. Information on the effect of ERT on mortality is also lacking owing to the relatively short time that the treatment has been available. Given this lack of data, it was not possible to develop a cost-effectiveness model of ERT treatment for MPS1 as the model would consist almost completely of assumptions based on no published evidence, leading to an incremental cost per QALY result that would be meaningless.
Conclusions: Although ERT for treating the 'average' patient with Fabry's disease exceeds the normal upper threshold for cost-effectiveness seen in NHS policy decisions by over sixfold, and the value for MPS1 is likely to be of a similar order of magnitude, clinicians and the manufacturers argue that, as the disease is classified as an orphan disease under European Union legislation, it has special status, and the NHS has no option but to provide ERT. More information is required before the generalisability of the findings can be determined. Although data from the UK have been used wherever possible, this was very thin indeed. Nonetheless, even large errors in assumptions made will not reduce the ICER to anywhere near the upper level of treatments usually considered cost-effective. In order to overcome limited evidence on the natural history of the disease and the clinical effectiveness of the intervention, the establishment of disease-specific data registries is suggested to facilitate the process of technology assessment and improving patient care. These registries should attempt to include all affected patients in the UK, and collect longitudinal patient level data on clinically relevant problems, interventions received and quality of life in a utility format.