Cost-Effectiveness of PD-L1 Testing in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Using In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) Versus Laboratory-Developed Test (LDT)

Oncol Ther. 2022 Dec;10(2):391-409. doi: 10.1007/s40487-022-00197-1. Epub 2022 May 13.


Introduction: Accurate PD-L1 testing for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) maximizes the benefits of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) drugs like pembrolizumab. False negative test results deny ICI treatments to eligible patients, worsening clinical and economic outcomes, while false positives increase costs by using ICI treatments without their benefits. This study evaluates the cost-effectiveness of PD-L1 testing with an in vitro diagnostic (IVD) compared to a laboratory-developed test (LDT) for allocating patients with NSCLC to treatment with either pembrolizumab or chemotherapy using the German healthcare system as a model.

Methods: We developed a decision analytical model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of PD-L1 testing with a regulatory body approved IVD compared to an LDT from the national German healthcare payer (statutory health insurance system) perspective. Accuracy of PD-L1 testing was based on data from two independent proficiency testing programs. The 1-year model was based on outcomes data from the KEYNOTE-024 clinical trial and treatment patterns reflecting current German practices.

Results: IVDs produced accurate PD-L1 testing results in 93% (752/811) of tested cases compared to 73% (492/672) with LDTs. Most misclassifications concerned false negatives, occurring in 21% of LDTs vs 7% of IVDs. Total costs of the IVD group (48,878 €) were 196 € higher than the LDT group (48,682 €). These costs incorporate testing, first- and second-line therapy, managing treatment-related grade 3+ adverse events (AEs), and end-of-life costs for those who died within the year. Total effectiveness (percentage of patients successfully diagnosed and prescribed the correct therapy per German treatment guidelines) was 19 percentage points higher for the IVD group (88%) compared to the LDT group (69%). These differences in costs and effects lead to an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of 1057 €.

Conclusion: Compared to LDT technology, on-label IVD use for PD-L1 testing is only slightly more costly and substantially more effective for aligning patients with PD-L1-positive NSCLC with ICI therapy according to German practice guidelines. Given these findings, changes to testing and reimbursement policies may be considered to maximize patient outcomes in NSCLC.

Keywords: Advanced NSCLC; Cost-effectiveness; Diagnostic; Germany; PD-L1; Pembrolizumab.