Research Article

Acute myeloblastic leukaemia--a model for assessing value for money for new treatment programmes.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 09 February 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:323
  1. P J Lobo,
  2. R L Powles,
  3. A Hanrahan,
  4. D K Reynold
  1. Medical Department, Farmitalia Carlo Erba (UK), Limited, St Albans, Hertfordshire.


    OBJECTIVE--To measure the effects of changes in treatment of acute myeloblastic leukaemia that may give better value for money. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of patients' notes to identify items of management costing money; prospective costing of these items. The Medical Research Council acute myeloblastic leukaemia 9 trial was used to identify the amount and distribution of these costs when either one or two courses of induction treatment were required to obtain complete remission. These findings were then extrapolated to four published international controlled trials using similarly intense treatment and in which the number of courses of treatment required for complete remission was stated, to compare British costs for treatment with idarubicin and daunorubicin, both in combination with cytarabine. SETTING--Leukaemia unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, London. SUBJECTS--Data on 10 patients receiving intensive induction treatment for acute myeloblastic leukaemia were used to identify 160 items of cost in four broad groups: general (including accommodation), diagnostic, supportive treatment, and cytotoxic chemotherapy. One newly treated patient was prospectively assessed over one month, including a time and motion study, to cost these items; then costs for 268 patients from the MRC trial receiving moderate induction chemotherapy including daunorubicin were assessed, and costs for treatment of 522 patients in the four international studies comparing daunorubicin with idarubicin were analysed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Cost effectiveness was measured as the overall cost to obtain complete remission in untreated patients with acute myeloblastic leukaemia after treatment with idarubicin or daunorubicin. RESULTS--The 160 costed items were measured for their sensitivity in varying the total cost of treatment, this being assessed within Britain in other district general and private hospitals to measure the extremes of cost of these items. Overall, idarubicin, although more expensive, showed a substantial saving (1477 pounds per patient) in total hospital costs, more than offsetting the increased cost (607 pounds) of the new treatment, an overall savings of 870 pounds per patient (5%). CONCLUSION--Approaches modelling cost effectiveness may be an essential part of planning new programmes of treatment in the future. This method can be used to estimate the cost effectiveness of the treatments in different environments and countries where costs may vary widely.