Introduction: An economic evaluation of the irinotecan, leucovorin, 5-fluorouracil (FOLFIRI) combination versus the irinotecan, oxaliplatin, leucovorin, 5-fluorouracil (FOLFOXIRI) regimen in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer was performed in the context of a randomised phase III study.
Methods: The trial did not find any differences in efficacy and, therefore, a cost-minimisation analysis was undertaken. Treatment cost accounts for the administration of first and second line chemotherapy, for concomitant medications, for laboratory and other examinations and hospitalisations due to treatment side effects. Unit prices used reflect 2006 and are common among NHS hospitals in Greece.
Results: The mean total cost of therapy in the FOLFOXIRI group (18,344 euros, 95% CI: 16,951 euros-19,776 euros), was significantly higher than the FOLFIRI group (12,201 euros, 95% CI: 11,011 euros-13,427 euros). Mean chemotherapy cost of the FOLFOXIRI group (9016 euros; 95% CI: 8338 euros-9669 euros) was significantly higher than that of the FOLFIRI group (4830 euros; 95% CI: 4435 euros-5231 euros). The next largest component of cost involves second line drugs, where the average cost per patient was 3306 euros (95% CI: 2479 euros-4237 euros) in the FOLFIRI group and 3996 euros (95% CI: 3196 euros-4892 euros) in the FOLFOXIRI group. The cost of hospitalisations was 1814 euros (95% CI: 1672 euros-1954 euros) in the first group and 2663 euros (95% CI: 2469 euros-2859 euros) in the second. The rest of the components represent a small part of the total cost and there are no differences in the two groups.
Conclusion: The combination of irinotecan, leucovorin, 5-fluorouracil has the same effectiveness as the combination of irinotecan, oxaliplatin, leucovorin, 5-fluorouracil in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, nonetheless it is associated with a much lower overall treatment cost and it should be the preferred treatment regimen in this context.