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Value Health. 2010 Aug;13(5):543-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4733.2010.00711.x. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

Cost-utility analysis of topical intranasal steroids for otitis media with effusion based on evidence from the GNOME trial.

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Health Economics Research Centre, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford (Old Road Campus), Headington, Oxford, UK.



To estimate the cost-effectiveness of topical intranasal steroids for the treatment of otitis media with effusion (OME) in primary care from the perspective of the UK National Health Service.


An economic evaluation was conducted based on evidence from the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled GPRF [General Practice Research Framework] Nasal Steroids for Otitis Media with Effusion (GNOME) trial. Participants comprised 217 children aged 4-11 years who had at least one episode of otitis media or related ear problem in the previous 12 months and had tympanometrically confirmed bilateral OME. Children were randomly allocated to receive either mometasone furoate 50 microg or placebo spray once daily into each nostril for 3 months. The main outcome measure was the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained for topical steroids compared with placebo. The nonparametric bootstrap method was used to present cost-effectiveness acceptability curves at alternative willingness to pay thresholds.


Children receiving topical steroids accrued nonsignificantly higher costs (incremental cost/child: pound11, 95% confidence interval [CI]: - pound199 to pound222) and nonsignificantly fewer QALYs (incremental QALY gain/child: -0.0166, 95% CI: -0.0652 to 0.0320) than those receiving placebo. Topical steroids had a 24.19% probability of being cost-effective at a pound20,000 per QALY gained threshold, a 23.82% probability of being more effective and a 46.25% probability of being less costly. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses showed incremental costs and benefits to be highly sensitive to the methods used and the patient group considered, although differences between groups did not reach statistical significance in any analysis.


Topical steroids are unlikely to be a cost-effective treatment for OME in general practice.

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