Objective: To investigate the utility associated with subcutaneous infusion (deferoxamine) compared with once-daily oral administration (deferasirox) of iron chelation therapy.
Methods: Interviews using the time trade-off technique were used to estimate preferences (utility) for health states by finding the point at which respondents were indifferent between a longer but lower quality of life (QoL) and a shorter time in full health. Participants (n = 110) were community-based, 51% women, median age 35 years, from four regions in Sydney, Australia. Respondents rated three health states involving equal outcomes for people with thalassemia but with different treatment modalities for iron chelation; an "anchor state" describing a patient receiving iron chelation without administration mode specified, anchor state plus iron chelation via subcutaneous infusion, and anchor state plus iron chelation through once-daily oral medication.
Results: On an interval scale between 0 (death) and 1 (full health), median (interquartile range) utility of 0.80 (0.65-0.95) for the anchor state, 0.66 (0.45-0.87) for subcutaneous infusion, and 0.93 (0.80-0.97) for once-daily oral administration was obtained. The mean (median) difference of 0.23 (0.27) between the two treatments was statistically significant (Wilcoxon-signed rank test, P < 0.001). Subcutaneous infusion was associated with a mean (median) utility 0.13 (0.14) lower than the anchor state (P < 0.001), and once-daily oral treatment had a utility 0.10 (0.13) higher (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Community respondents associate oral administration of an iron chelator such as deferasirox with enhanced QoL compared with subcutaneous treatment. Assuming equal safety and efficacy, QoL gains from once-daily oral treatment compared with subcutaneous infusion are significant.