Cost effectiveness of palivizumab for respiratory syncytial virus prophylaxis in high-risk children: a UK analysis

Pharmacoeconomics. 2007;25(1):55-71. doi: 10.2165/00019053-200725010-00006.


Objective: To assess the cost effectiveness of palivizumab (a preventative treatment against severe respiratory syncytial virus [RSV] infection) in children at high risk of hospitalisation, i.e. preterm infants < or = 35 weeks gestation, children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and children with congenital heart disease (CHD).

Methods: A decision tree model was developed employing data sources from the published literature, palivizumab clinical trials, official UK price/tariff lists and national population statistics. The comparator was no prophylaxis. The primary perspective of the study was that of the UK NHS. In a societal perspective scenario analysis, the future lost productivity of a child resulting from RSV-related mortality (indirect costs) was also included. The cost of administration of palivizumab, hospital care for RSV infections and the cost of asthma treatment were included. The analysis was based on a lifetime follow-up period in order to capture the impact of palivizumab on long-term morbidity and mortality resulting from an RSV infection. The primary efficacy outcome in the palivizumab clinical trials was the number of RSV hospitalisations avoided, which was extrapolated to effectiveness outcomes, i.e. number of life-years gained and number of QALYs. Costs and effects were discounted by 3.5%.

Results: In preterm infants and children with BPD, prophylaxis with palivizumab compared with no prophylaxis had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of 7042 pounds/QALY without discounting outcomes, increasing to 16,720 pounds/QALY after discounting. In babies with CHD, the use of palivizumab resulted in an ICER of 2427 pounds/QALY without discounting outcomes and 6664 pounds/QALY after discounting. One-way sensitivity analyses and probabilistic sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of the model. A scenario analysis showed that the inclusion of indirect costs leads to further improvement in the cost-effectiveness outcomes for palivizumab.

Conclusion: This study suggests that palivizumab prophylaxis against severe RSV infection in children at high risk may be cost effective from the NHS perspective (vs no prophylaxis), and that the positive clinical and economic benefits may persist beyond one RSV season.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / economics*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / economics*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Palivizumab
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / economics*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / prevention & control*
  • United Kingdom


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Palivizumab