Objectives: The aim of this study was to systematically review economic analyses comparing drug-eluting stents (DES) to bare metal stents (BMS) in patients who undergo percutaneous coronary intervention to form an overall view about cost-effectiveness of DES and to construct a simple decision analysis model to evaluate the cost–utility of DES.
Methods: Electronic databases searched from January 2004 to January 2006 were Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; DARE, HTA, EED (NHS CRD); MEDLINE(R) In-Process, Other Non-Indexed Citations, MEDLINE(R). References of the papers identified were checked. We included randomized controlled trials (RCT) or model-based cost-effectiveness analyses comparing DES to BMS in patients with coronary artery disease. The methodological quality of the papers was assessed by Drummond's criteria. Baseline characteristics and results of the studies were extracted and data synthesized descriptively. A decision tree model was constructed to evaluate the cost–utility of DES in comparison to BMS, where health-related quality of life was measured by the 15D.
Results: We identified thirteen good-quality economic evaluations. In two of these based on RCTs, DES was found cost-effective. In six studies, it was concluded that DES might probably be a cost-effective strategy in some circumstances, but not as a single strategy, and four studies concluded that DES is not cost-effective. One study did not draw a clear conclusion. In our analysis, the overall incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was €98,827 per quality-adjusted life-years gained. Avoiding one revascularization with DES would cost €4,794, when revascularization with BMS costs €3,260.
Conclusions: The evidence is inconsistent of whether DES would be a cost-effective treatment compared with BMS in any healthcare system where evaluated. A marked restenosis risk reduction should be achieved before use of DES is justifiable at present prices. When considering adoption of a new health technology with a high incremental cost within a fixed budget, opportunity cost in terms of untreated patients should be seriously considered as a question of collective ethics.