Schizophrenia is a chronic debilitating condition characterized by disorders in thought, affect and behavior. The worldwide prevalence is around 0.3 to 1 percent. The pharmacological treatment is based on antipsychotic drugs, but their efficacy is limited, culminating in discontinuation of treatment, relapses, and readmissions to health services. Quetiapine was initially approved for use in the United States of America in 1997. The drug has moderate affinity for D2 and 5-HT2A receptors and high affinity for H1 receptors. This study aimed to conduct an assessment of the cost-utility of quetiapine for schizophrenia around the world.
Cost-utility studies of head-to-head comparisons of quetiapine against other antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia and related disorders were included, irrespective of the diagnostic criteria used. An electronic search on Medline, Lilacs, Center for Reviews and Dissemination, The Cochrane Library and PsycINFO was conducted and complemented by references of included studies, Google Scholar and conference abstracts. Monetary values were converted to PPP-USD for the same base-year of the study.
Six economic evaluations were included, representing four countries and a multicentric analysis. Comparisons between quetiapine and twelve other antipsychotic drugs were identified. Three studies found quetiapine to be dominated by risperidone and the remaining three found it to be more expensive and more effective with incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) values of USD 36,535, 8,786 and USD 127,600 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). Three studies found quetiapine, in comparison to olanzapine, to be inferior, one found it to be superior and two studies found it to be more expensive and more effective with ICER values of USD 139,699 and USD 224,000 per QALY. The reports were considered to be of reasonable quality. Yet the mixture of contexts might influence the results.
In general, there seems to be a trend favoring olanzapine and risperidone over quetiapine. None of the studies favored quetiapine over all the other drugs.