Objective: To compare, in a Canadian health care setting, the costs and consequences of 3 strategies of misoprostol prophylaxis for osteoarthritis patients: prophylaxis for all patients taking nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for no patients taking NSAIDs, and for only elderly patients (age > or = 60) taking NSAIDs.
Methods: We designed a decision-analysis model which incorporated costs (estimated with ulcer patient profiles and medical records), review, and probabilities (estimated from a companion meta-analysis, selected literature review, and Ontario Ministry of Health Statistics). Effectiveness was defined as the number of episodes of gastric ulceration requiring hospitalization or outpatient management that were averted by each strategy.
Results: On average, prophylaxis cost an additional $650 for every additional gastrointestinal event prevented. Prophylaxis for elderly NSAID users was cost saving if the ulcer complication rate in this group exceeds 1.2%, or if either the charges for outpatient ulcer treatment exceed $2,000, or the 3-month price of misoprostol is < or = $90.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that, in this setting, misoprostol prophylaxis may be highly cost effective.