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Am J Cardiol. 2012 Apr 1;109(7):1020-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2011.11.034. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Cost-effectiveness of clopidogrel plus aspirin for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation in whom warfarin is unsuitable.

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School of Pharmacy, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA.


Guidelines for atrial fibrillation (AF) recommend clopidogrel plus aspirin as an alternative stroke prevention strategy in patients in whom warfarin is unsuitable. A Markov model was conducted from a Medicare prospective using data from the Atrial Fibrillation Clopidogrel Trial with Irbesartan for Prevention of Vascular Events-A (ACTIVE-A) trial and other published studies. Base-case analysis evaluated patients 65 years old with AF, a CHADS(2) (congestive heart failure, 1 point; hypertension defined as blood pressure consistently >140/90 mm Hg or antihypertension medication, 1 point; age ≥75 years, 1 point; diabetes mellitus, 1 point; previous stroke or transient ishemic attack, 2 points) score of 2, and a lower risk for major bleeding. Patients received clopidogrel 75 mg/day plus aspirin or aspirin alone. Patients were followed for up to 35 years. Outcomes included quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs (in 2011 American dollars), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. Quality-adjusted life expectancy and costs were 9.37 QALYs and $88,751 with clopidogrel plus aspirin and 9.01 QALYs and $79,057 with aspirin alone. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for clopidogrel plus aspirin was $26,928/QALY. With 1-way sensitivity analysis using a willingness-to-pay threshold of $50,000/QALY, clopidogrel plus aspirin was no longer cost effective when the CHADS(2) score was ≤1, major bleeding risk with aspirin was ≥2.50%/patient-year, the relative risk decrease for ischemic stroke with clopidogrel plus aspirin versus aspirin alone was <25%, and the utility of being healthy with AF on combination therapy decreased to 0.95. Monte Carlo simulation demonstrated that clopidogrel plus aspirin was cost effective in 55% and 73% of 10,000 iterations assuming willingness-to-pay thresholds of $50,000 and $100,000/QALY. In conclusion, clopidogrel plus aspirin appears cost-effective compared to aspirin alone for stroke prevention in patients with AF with a CHADS(2) of ≥2 and a lower risk of bleeding.

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