Objective: Anaemia is a common complication of renal failure. It can be treated with erythropoietin (EPO) administration, red blood cell transfusion (RBCT), or a combination of both. EPO has been registered for the treatment of renal anaemia in Sweden since the beginning of the 1990s, and is the primary treatment regimen for anaemia related to renal failure. The objective of this study was to carry out a cost-effectiveness analysis from a provider perspective of a treatment strategy comprising EPO and complementary RBCT compared to the traditional treatment of RBCT alone for patients with anaemia associated with renal failure in Sweden.
Material and methods: Incremental costs and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) associated with EPO (epoietin-alpha) treatment compared to the traditional therapy of RBCT were estimated. The QALY gains were estimated using a modified version of a Markov model, which is used by the UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence in their evaluations of EPO treatment in the UK. Swedish treatment practice (i.e. EPO doses and iron supplementation), patient characteristics and unit costs were used throughout the study.
Results: The estimated cost per QALY gained from administration of EPO to renal patients falls within the range acceptable in Sweden for both haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients.
Conclusions: EPO administration to renal patients is much more costly in Sweden than in the UK, primarily due to the higher dosage of EPO and iron supplementation used in Sweden. However, Swedish patients reach higher haemoglobin levels, and thereby achieve higher QALY gains, compared to patients in the UK.