Cost Effectiveness of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy in Relapsed or Refractory Pediatric B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

J Clin Oncol. 2018 Nov 10;36(32):3192-3202. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2018.79.0642. Epub 2018 Sep 13.


Purpose: The anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel was recently approved to treat relapsed or refractory pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. With a one-time infusion cost of $475,000, tisagenlecleucel is currently the most expensive oncologic therapy. We aimed to determine whether tisagenlecleucel is cost effective compared with currently available treatments.

Methods: Markov modeling was used to evaluate tisagenlecleucel in pediatric relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia from a US health payer perspective over a lifetime horizon. The model was informed by recent multicenter, single-arm clinical trials. Tisagenlecleucel (under a range of plausible long-term effectiveness) was compared with blinatumomab, clofarabine combination therapy (clofarabine, etoposide, and cyclophosphamide), and clofarabine monotherapy. Scenario and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were used to explore uncertainty. Main outcomes were life-years, discounted lifetime costs, discounted quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (3% discount rate).

Results: With an assumption of a 40% 5-year relapse-free survival rate, tisagenlecleucel increased life expectancies by 12.1 years and cost $61,000/QALY gained. However, at a 20% 5-year relapse-free survival rate, life-expectancies were more modest (3.8 years) and expensive ($151,000/QALY gained). At a 0% 5-year relapse-free survival rate and with use as a bridge to transplant, tisagenlecleucel increased life expectancies by 5.7 years and cost $184,000/QALY gained. Reduction of the price of tisagenlecleucel to $200,000 or $350,000 would allow it to meet a $100,000/QALY or $150,000/QALY willingness-to-pay threshold in all scenarios.

Conclusion: The long-term effectiveness of tisagenlecleucel is a critical but uncertain determinant of its cost effectiveness. At its current price, tisagenlecleucel represents reasonable value if it can keep a substantial fraction of patients in remission without transplantation; however, if all patients ultimately require a transplantation to remain in remission, it will not be cost effective at generally accepted thresholds. Price reductions would favorably influence cost effectiveness even if long-term clinical outcomes are modest.