Background: In the ESSENCE trial, subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin (enoxaparin) reduced the 30-day incidence of death, myocardial infarction, and recurrent angina relative to intravenous unfractionated heparin in 3171 patients with acute coronary syndrome (unstable angina or non-Q-wave myocardial infarction). No increase in major bleeding was seen.
Methods and results: Of the 936 ESSENCE patients randomized in the United States, 655 had hospital billing data collected. For the remainder, hospital costs were imputed with a multivariable linear regression model (R2=.86). Physician fees were estimated from the Medicare Fee Schedule. During the initial hospitalization, major resource use was reduced for enoxaparin patients, with the largest effect seen with coronary angioplasty (15% versus 20% for heparin, P=.04). At 30 days, these effects persisted, with the largest reductions seen in diagnostic catheterization (57% versus 63% for heparin, P=.04) and coronary angioplasty (18% versus 22%, P=.08). All resource use trends seen in the US cohort were also evident in the overall ESSENCE study population. In the United States, the mean cost of a course of enoxaparin therapy was $155, whereas that for heparin was $80. The total medical costs (hospital, physician, drug) for the initial hospitalization were $11 857 for enoxaparin and $12620 for heparin, a cost advantage for the enoxaparin arm of $763 (P=.18). At the end of 30 days, the cumulative cost savings associated with enoxaparin was $1172 (P=.04). In 200 bootstrap samples of the 30-day data, 94% of the samples showed a cost advantage for enoxaparin.
Conclusions: In patients with acute coronary syndrome, low-molecular-weight heparin (enoxaparin) both improves important clinical outcomes and saves money relative to therapy with standard unfractionated heparin.