An economic evaluation of vasoactive agents used in the United Kingdom for acute bleeding oesophageal varices in patients with liver cirrhosis

Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Jul;23(7):1481-91. doi: 10.1185/030079907x199736.


Objective: To conduct an economic evaluation of terlipressin, octreotide and placebo in the treatment of bleeding oesophageal varices (BOV) where endotherapy could be used concomitantly.

Methods: A discrete event simulation model was created with transition states: bleeding, no bleeding, no bleeding post transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, post-salvage surgery, and death. Efficacy data on survival, re-bleeding and control of bleeding were obtained from high quality studies reported in Cochrane meta-analyses. Baseline outcomes related to the course of disease and health-state utilities were derived from published sources. Vasoactive treatment costs and all related BOV costs were obtained from published UK sources.

Results: The average aggregated treatment cost per person for all medical interventions at 1 year was lower for terlipressin-treated patients (2623 pounds sterling) compared with those treated using octreotide (2758 pounds sterling) or placebo (2890 pounds sterling). The incremental analysis comparing terlipressin with octreotide and placebo using a cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) and cost per life year gained (LYG) approach indicated that terlipressin was the dominant BOV treatment option (i.e. it cost less and it was more effective). Based on a maximum willingness to pay of 20,000 pounds sterling/QALY terlipressin was more effective and cost-saving compared to octreotide and placebo for simulations ranging from 42 days to 2 years. In point estimation analyses octreotide was dominant compared to placebo; however, probabilistic sensitivity analysis indicated that octreotide was unlikely to be cost-effective compared to placebo.

Conclusions: The findings indicated that vasoactive treatment in BOV was cost-saving compared to no vasoactive treatment. Furthermore, terlipressin was the more cost-effective vasoactive treatment for BOV in cirrhotic patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Costs*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / drug therapy*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / economics
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / economics
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / economics
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Lypressin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Lypressin / economics
  • Lypressin / therapeutic use
  • Octreotide / economics*
  • Octreotide / therapeutic use
  • Terlipressin
  • United Kingdom
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / economics*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Lypressin
  • Terlipressin
  • Octreotide