Economic Evaluation of Using Daily Prednisolone versus Placebo at the Time of an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection for the Management of Children with Steroid-Sensitive Nephrotic Syndrome: A Model-Based Analysis

Pharmacoecon Open. 2022 Jul;6(4):605-617. doi: 10.1007/s41669-022-00334-6. Epub 2022 Jun 22.


Background: Childhood steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome is a frequently relapsing disease with significant short- and long-term complications, leading to high healthcare costs and reduced quality of life for patients. The majority of relapses are triggered by upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and evidence shows that daily low-dose prednisolone at the time of infection may reduce the risk of relapse.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the cost effectiveness of a 6-day course of low-dose prednisolone at the start of a URTI when compared with placebo.

Methods: A state-transition Markov model was developed to conduct a cost-utility analysis with the outcome measured in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Resource use and outcome data were derived from the PREDNOS2 trial. The analysis was performed from a UK National Health Service perspective and the results were extrapolated to adulthood. Model parameter and structural uncertainty were assessed using sensitivity analyses.

Results: The base-case results showed that administering low-dose prednisolone at the time of a URTI generated more QALYs and a lower mean cost at 1 year compared with placebo. In the long-term, low-dose prednisolone was associated with a cost saving (£176) and increased effectiveness (0.01 QALYs) compared with placebo and thus remained the dominant treatment option. These findings were robust to all sensitivity analyses.

Conclusion: A 6-day course of low-dose prednisolone at the time of a URTI in children with steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome has the potential to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of life compared with placebo.