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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Nov;25(11):1739-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2010.06404.x.

Economic evaluation of sorafenib in unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.



A double-blind, randomized phase III trial of sorafenib in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma demonstrated that sorafenib significantly prolonged overall survival compared to placebo (median overall survival = 10.7 months vs 7.9 months, P < 0.001). Sorafenib is the first and only systemic agent demonstrating survival benefit in these patients. The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of sorafenib versus best supportive care in the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma in the USA.


A Markov model was developed following time-to-progression and survival using phase III trial data. Health effects are expressed as life-years gained. Resource utilization included drugs, physician visits, laboratory tests, scans, and hospitalizations. Unit costs, expressed in 2007 $US, came from diagnosis-related groupings, fee schedules, and the Red Book. Costs and effects were evaluated over a patient's lifetime and discounted at 3%.


Results are presented as incremental cost/life-year gained. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were conducted. Life-years gained were increased for sorafenib compared to best supportive care (mean ± standard deviation: 1.58 ± 0.17 vs 1.05 ± 0.10 life-years gained/sorafenib patient and best supportive care, respectively). Lifetime total costs were $US40,639 ± $US3052 for sorafenib and $US7, 804 ± $US1349 for best supportive care. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $US62,473/life-year gained.


  The economic evaluation indicates that sorafenib is cost-effective compared to best supportive care, with a cost-effectiveness ratio within the established threshold that US society is willing to pay (i.e. $US50,000-$US100,000) and significantly lower than alternative thresholds suggested in recent years ($US183,000-$US264,000/life-year gained, or $US300,000/quality-adjusted life-year) in oncology.

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