A test-based strategy is more cost effective than empiric dose escalation for patients with Crohn's disease who lose responsiveness to infliximab

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Jun;11(6):654-66. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2012.12.035. Epub 2013 Jan 26.


Background & aims: Patients with Crohn's disease who become unresponsive to therapy with tumor necrosis factor antagonists are managed initially with either empiric dose escalation or testing-based strategies. The comparative cost effectiveness of these 2 strategies is unknown. We investigated whether a testing-based strategy is more cost effective than an empiric dose-escalation strategy.

Methods: A decision analytic model that simulated 2 cohorts of patients with Crohn's disease compared outcomes for the 2 strategies over a 1-year time period. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of the empiric strategy was expressed as cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained, compared with the testing-based strategy. We performed 1-way, probabilistic, and prespecified secondary analyses.

Results: The testing strategy yielded similar QALYs compared with the empiric strategy (0.801 vs 0.800, respectively) but was less expensive ($31,870 vs $37,266, respectively). In sensitivity analyses, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of the empiric strategy ranged from $500,000 to more than $5 million per QALY gained. Similar rates of remission (63% vs 66%) and response (28% vs 26%) were achieved through differential use of available interventions. The testing-based strategy resulted in a higher percentage of surgeries (48% vs 34%) and lower percentage use of high-dose biological therapy (41% vs 54%).

Conclusions: A testing-based strategy is a cost-effective alternative to the current strategy of empiric dose escalation for managing patients with Crohn's disease who have lost responsiveness to infliximab. The basis for this difference is lower cost at similar outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / economics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / economics
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Infliximab
  • Treatment Failure


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Infliximab