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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Jul;111(1):56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.04.008. Epub 2013 May 3.

Cost-effectiveness for acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis: economic results of the ACUSAR trial.

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Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité - University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany.



Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a frequent allergic disorder with a significant economic effect on health care costs and productivity.


To assess the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for patients with seasonal AR (SAR) in Germany.


The present analysis was part of the Acupuncture in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (ACUSAR) trial, a 3-arm randomized, controlled, multicenter trial in patients with SAR, comparing acupuncture plus rescue medication (RM), penetrating sham acupuncture plus RM, and a control group receiving RM alone. Measures for health economic analyses were costs and health-related quality of life. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was calculated for different scenarios on the duration of acupuncture effects and was expressed as costs per quality-adjusted life-year gained. The study was conducted from society's and from a third-party payer's perspective.


From 422 initially randomized patients, a total of 364 patients with complete data on costs and quality of life were included in the health economic evaluation. Patients receiving acupuncture or sham acupuncture caused higher costs than patients in the RM group. Patients in the acupuncture group gained significantly more quality-adjusted life-years compared with the RM group. Depending on different scenarios, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for acupuncture patients was between €31,241 (approximately US $38.569) and €118,889 (approximately US $146,777) from society's perspective and between €20,807 (approximately US $25,688) and €74,585 (approximately US $92.080) from a third-party payer's perspective.


Acupuncture is an effective intervention that results in improved quality of life in patients with SAR. However, in times of limited resources for health care, acupuncture for AR may not be a cost-effective intervention.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT00610584.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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