Outcomes and costs of incorporating a multibiomarker disease activity test in the management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015 Sep;54(9):1640-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kev023. Epub 2015 Apr 15.


Objective: The multibiomarker disease activity (MBDA) blood test has been clinically validated as a measure of disease activity in patients with RA. We aimed to estimate the effect of the MBDA test on physical function for patients with RA (based on HAQ), quality-adjusted life years and costs over 10 years.

Methods: A decision analysis was conducted to quantify the effect of using the MBDA test on RA-related outcomes and costs to private payers and employers. Results of a clinical management study reporting changes to anti-rheumatic drug recommendations after use of the MBDA test informed clinical utility. The effect of treatment changes on HAQ was derived from 5 tight-control and 13 treatment-switch trials. Baseline HAQ scores and the HAQ score relationship with medical costs and quality of life were derived from published National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases data.

Results: Use of the MBDA test is projected to improve HAQ scores by 0.09 units in year 1, declining to 0.02 units after 10 years. Over the 10 year time horizon, quality-adjusted life years increased by 0.08 years and costs decreased by US$457 (cost savings in disability-related medical costs, US$659; in productivity costs, US$2137). The most influential variable in the analysis was the effect of the MBDA test on clinician treatment recommendations and subsequent HAQ changes.

Conclusion: The MBDA test aids in the assessment of disease activity in patients with RA by changing treatment decisions, improving the functional status of patients and cost savings. Further validation is ongoing and future longitudinal studies are warranted.

Keywords: biomarkers; health economics; outcome assessment; quality of life; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disease Management*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Hematologic Tests / economics*
  • Hematologic Tests / methods*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prognosis
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biomarkers