Objectives: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a tight-control treatment strategy using the handscan (TCHS) compared to using only clinical assessments (TC) and compared to a general non-tight-control treatment strategy (usual care; UC) in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Data from 299 early RA patients from the CAMERA trial were used. Clinical outcomes were extrapolated to Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and costs using a Markov model. Costs and QALYs were compared between the TC and UC treatment strategy arm of the CAMERA trial and a simulated tight-control treatment strategy using the handscan (TCHS). Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratios (ICERs) were calculated and several scenario analyses performed. All analyses were performed probabilistically to obtain confidence intervals and costs-effectiveness planes and acceptability curves.
Results: In TCHS, €4,660 (95% CI -€11,516 to €2,045) was saved and 0.06 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.11) QALYs were gained when compared to UC, with an ICER of €77,670 saved per QALY gained. Ninety-one percent (91%) of simulations resulted in less costs and more QALYs. TCHS resulted in comparable costs or even limited savings €642 (95% CI -€6,903 to €5,601)) and comparable QALYs to TC. In all scenario analyses, TCHS and TC were found to be cost effective as compared to UC.
Conclusions: A tight-control treatment strategy is highly cost-effective compared to a non-tight-control approach in early RA. Using the handscan as a monitoring device might facilitate implementation of tight-control treatment strategy at comparable costs and with comparable effects. This approach should be investigated further.