Background: Vitamin K antagonists, such as warfarin, are standard treatments for stroke prophylaxis in patients with atrial fibrillation. Patient outcomes depend on quality of warfarin management, which includes regular monitoring and dose adjustments. Recently, novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) that do not require regular monitoring offer an alternative to warfarin. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether cost effectiveness of NOACs for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation depends on the quality of warfarin control.
Methods: We developed a Markov decision model to simulate warfarin treatment outcomes in relation to the quality of anticoagulation control, expressed as percentage of time in the therapeutic range (TTR). Standard treatment with adjusted-dose warfarin and improved anticoagulation control by genotype-guided dosing were compared with dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban. The analysis was performed from the Slovenian healthcare payer perspective using 2014 costs.
Results: In the base case, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for apixaban, dabigatran and edoxaban was below the threshold of €25,000 per quality-adjusted life-years compared with adjusted-dose warfarin with a TTR of 60%. The probability that warfarin was a cost-effective option was around 1%. This percentage rises as the quality of anticoagulation control improves. At a TTR of 70%, warfarin was the preferred treatment in half the iterations.
Conclusion: The cost effectiveness of NOACs for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who are at increased risk for stroke is highly sensitive to warfarin anticoagulation control. NOACs are more likely to be cost-effective options in settings with poor warfarin management than in settings with better anticoagulation control, where they may not represent good value for money.