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Health Policy. 2015 Feb;119(2):212-6. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2014.12.002. Epub 2014 Dec 9.

Cost-effectiveness of trastuzumab in metastatic breast cancer: mainly a matter of price in the EU?

Author information

1
CESAV, Centre for Health Economics, IRCCS 'Mario Negri' Institute for Pharmacological Research, Via Camozzi, 3 c/o Villa Camozzi, 24020 Ranica (Bergamo), Italy. Electronic address: livio.garattini@marionegri.it.
2
CESAV, Centre for Health Economics, IRCCS 'Mario Negri' Institute for Pharmacological Research, Via Camozzi, 3 c/o Villa Camozzi, 24020 Ranica (Bergamo), Italy.

Abstract

Trastuzumab (TR), a monoclonal antibody approved by EMA in 2000 and one of the first examples of "targeted therapy", is indicated to treat human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive breast cancer. TR, whose patent will expire in 2015 in Europe, has been judged positively for reimbursement by most public authorities in the EU. Here we critically review the existing evidence on TR in metastatic breast cancer (MBC), in line with the multidisciplinary health technology assessment (HTA) approach, to assess whether the existing evidence supports TR positive reimbursement decisions taken in MBC by EU health authorities. We did a literature search for the main HTA topics (efficacy, quality of life and ethics) on the PubMed international database (2000-2013). Then, we did a specific literature search to select the full economic evaluations (FEEs) conducted in EU countries focused on TR as first-line innovative therapy in MBC. We retrieved scant evidence in the literature to support TR reimbursement in MBC. We found only two clinical trials and their results were unclear because of the large proportion of patients who crossed over. Moreover, the quality of methods was poor in all four European FEEs selected. This example of HTA exercise on a mature monoclonal antibody in a specific indication casts doubts on how often the reimbursement decisions taken by EU health authorities in emotional pathologies like cancer are rational. These decisions should at least be reconsidered periodically on the basis of the latest evidence.

KEYWORDS:

Biosimilars; Economic evaluation; Health technology assessment; Metastatic breast cancer; Trastuzumab

PMID:
25523144
DOI:
10.1016/j.healthpol.2014.12.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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