Islet cell transplantation is in clinical development for type 1 diabetes. There are no data on the cost in relationship to its benefits. We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis and made a comparison with standard insulin therapy, using Markov modeling and Monte Carlo simulations. The patient population was adults aged 20 yr suffering from hypoglycemia unawareness. Data were estimates from literature and clinical trials: costs were based on the situation in the United States. For insulin therapy, cumulative cost per patient during a 20-yr follow-up was $663,000, and cumulative effectiveness was 9.3 quality-adjusted life years (QALY), the average cost-effectiveness ratio being $71,000 per QALY. Islet transplantation had a cumulative cost of $519,000, a cumulative effectiveness of 10.9 QALY, and an average cost-effectiveness ratio of $47,800. During the first 10 yr, costs for transplantation were higher, but cumulative effectiveness was higher from the start onwards. In sensitivity analyses, the need for one instead of two transplants during the first year did not affect the conclusions, and islet transplantation remained cost-saving up to an initial cost of the procedure of $240,000. This exploratory evaluation shows that islet cell transplantation is more effective than standard insulin treatment, and becomes cost-saving at about 9-10 yr after transplantation.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.