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Value Health. 2010 Mar-Apr;13(2):180-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4733.2009.00650.x. Epub 2009 Oct 8.

Cost-effectiveness of using recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone before radioiodine ablation for thyroid cancer: the Canadian perspective.

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Health Technology Analysts, Balmain, NSW, Australia.



Radioiodine ablation for the treatment of thyroid cancer is traditionally performed after preparing patients by inducing hypothyroidism. Exogenous stimulation of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) using recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) avoids hypothyroidism and hastens the clearance of radioiodine from the patient. These advantages are achieved without jeopardizing the success rate of remnant ablation. An economic analysis was performed to place the increased acquisition cost of rhTSH in the context of the health benefits achieved and the earlier discharge from radioprotection.


Markov modeling, using 17 individual weekly cycles, was used to assess the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) associated with exogenous stimulation. Clinical inputs were largely sourced from a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial comparing remnant ablation success after either rhTSH or hypothyroid preparation. The model applied Canadian unit costs, taking a societal perspective. Additional costs associated with rhTSH were considered in the context of the clinical benefits and cost offsets. These included avoidance of hypothyroidism, increased work productivity, earlier administration of ablation after surgery, and earlier discharge from the radio-protective ward because of faster radioiodine clearance following rhTSH preparation. The model duration avoided the need for discounting.


The additional benefits of rhTSH (0.0576 QALY) are obtained with an incremental cost of CDN$87, generating an incremental cost per QALY of CDN$1520. Deterministic one-way and two-way sensitivity analyses demonstrated the result to be robust.


The use of rhTSH before radioiodine ablation represents a reasonable allocation of costs, with the benefits to patients, hospitals, and society as a whole, obtained at modest cost.

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