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Friday 01 December 2000

Inhaled salmeterol/fluticasone propionate combination. A pharmacoeconomic review of its use in the management of asthma.

By: Markham A, Adkins JC.

Pharmacoeconomics 2000 Dec;18(6):591-608

Cost estimates from developed countries indicate that asthma accounts for up to 2% of the economic cost of all diseases. A large proportion of asthma-related costs are attributable to poor asthma control. Treatment strategies which improve clinical outcomes in patients with asthma, therefore, have the potential for significant economic benefits, and it is important to evaluate new asthma therapies for cost effectiveness. Several studies have established that salmeterol and fluticasone propionate combined in a single dry powder inhalation device are at least as effective as a combination of the 2 drugs administered via separate dry powder inhalers and more effective than monotherapy with fluticasone propionate or budesonide. Importantly, pharmacoeconomic analysis of several of these studies show that the salmeterol/fluticasone propionate combination is cost effective relative to monotherapy with fluticasone propionate or budesonide. Although the total cost of asthma management tended to be slightly higher with salmeterol/fluticasone propionate than with inhaled corticosteroid monotherapy, in most cases mean cost-effectiveness ratios were lower (i.e. more favourable) for salmeterol/fluticasone propionate than either fluticasone propionate or budesonide. Cost effectiveness was assessed according to 3 end-points: successfully treated weeks, symptom-free days and episode-free days. Mean cost-effectiveness ratios consistently favoured salmeterol/fluticasone propionate over the comparator drug for the end-point successfully treated weeks, and in most cases the other 2 end-points also favoured the combination product over the comparator. In a further study, salmeterol/fluticasone was also less costly than therapy with formoterol and budesonide administered via 2 separate inhalers. Studies of health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) using the Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire indicate that salmeterol/fluticasone propionate produces clinically meaningful improvements in overall HR-QOL relative to salmeterol monotherapy or placebo. Improvements in overall HR-QOL were statistically significantly greater for salmeterol/fluticasone propionate than with fluticasone propionate or budesonide alone, although the differences between treatments did not exceed the threshold for clinical significance. In conclusion, short term cost-effectiveness data show that salmeterol/fluticasone propionate is more cost effective than the inhaled corticosteroids budesonide and fluticasone propionate alone. The combination product also appears to improve HR-QOL relative to placebo or salmeterol alone.

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