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1.  Cost-effectiveness of changes in alcohol taxation in Denmark: a modelling study 
Introduction
Excessive alcohol consumption is a public health problem in many countries including Denmark, where 6% of the burden of disease is due to alcohol consumption, according to the new estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Pricing policies, including tax increases, have been shown to effectively decrease the level of alcohol consumption.
Methods
We analysed the cost-effectiveness of three different scenarios of changed taxation of alcoholic beverages in Denmark (20% and 100% increase and 10% decrease). The lifetime health effects are estimated as the difference in disability-adjusted life years between a Danish population that continues to drink alcohol at current rates and an identical population that changes their alcohol consumption due to changes in taxation. Calculation of cost offsets related to treatment of alcohol-related diseases and injuries, was based on health care system costs from Danish national registers. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated by calculating cost-effectiveness ratios (CERs) compared to current practice.
Results
The two scenarios of 20% and 100% increased taxation could avert 20,000 DALY and 95,500 DALY respectively, and yield cost savings of -€119 million and -€575 million, over the life time of the Danish population. Both scenarios are thus cost saving. The tax decrease scenario would lead to 10,100 added DALY and an added cost of €60 million. For all three interventions the health effects build up and reach their maximum around 15–20 years after implementation of the tax change.
Conclusion
Our results show that decreased taxation will lead to an increased burden of disease and related increases in health care costs, whereas both a doubling of the current level of alcohol taxation and a scenario where taxation is only increased by 20% can be cost-saving ways to reduce alcohol related morbidity and mortality. Our results support the growing evidence that population strategies are cost-effective and should be considered for policy making and prevention of alcohol abuse.
doi:10.1186/1478-7547-12-1
PMCID: PMC3914680  PMID: 24405884
Cost-effectiveness; Taxation; Alcohol; Public health; Health effects; Health care costs; Simulation modelling
2.  Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Expanding Harm Reduction and Antiretroviral Therapy in a Mixed HIV Epidemic: A Modeling Analysis for Ukraine 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000423.
A cost-effectiveness study by Sabina Alistar and colleagues evaluates the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of different levels of investment in methadone, ART, or both, in the mixed HIV epidemic in Ukraine.
Background
Injection drug use (IDU) and heterosexual virus transmission both contribute to the growing mixed HIV epidemics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In Ukraine—chosen in this study as a representative country—IDU-related risk behaviors cause half of new infections, but few injection drug users (IDUs) receive methadone substitution therapy. Only 10% of eligible individuals receive antiretroviral therapy (ART). The appropriate resource allocation between these programs has not been studied. We estimated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of strategies for expanding methadone substitution therapy programs and ART in mixed HIV epidemics, using Ukraine as a case study.
Methods and Findings
We developed a dynamic compartmental model of the HIV epidemic in a population of non-IDUs, IDUs using opiates, and IDUs on methadone substitution therapy, stratified by HIV status, and populated it with data from the Ukraine. We considered interventions expanding methadone substitution therapy, increasing access to ART, or both. We measured health care costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), HIV prevalence, infections averted, and incremental cost-effectiveness. Without incremental interventions, HIV prevalence reached 67.2% (IDUs) and 0.88% (non-IDUs) after 20 years. Offering methadone substitution therapy to 25% of IDUs reduced prevalence most effectively (to 53.1% IDUs, 0.80% non-IDUs), and was most cost-effective, averting 4,700 infections and adding 76,000 QALYs compared with no intervention at US$530/QALY gained. Expanding both ART (80% coverage of those eligible for ART according to WHO criteria) and methadone substitution therapy (25% coverage) was the next most cost-effective strategy, adding 105,000 QALYs at US$1,120/QALY gained versus the methadone substitution therapy-only strategy and averting 8,300 infections versus no intervention. Expanding only ART (80% coverage) added 38,000 QALYs at US$2,240/QALY gained versus the methadone substitution therapy-only strategy, and averted 4,080 infections versus no intervention. Offering ART to 80% of non-IDUs eligible for treatment by WHO criteria, but only 10% of IDUs, averted only 1,800 infections versus no intervention and was not cost effective.
Conclusions
Methadone substitution therapy is a highly cost-effective option for the growing mixed HIV epidemic in Ukraine. A strategy that expands both methadone substitution therapy and ART to high levels is the most effective intervention, and is very cost effective by WHO criteria. When expanding ART, access to methadone substitution therapy provides additional benefit in infections averted. Our findings are potentially relevant to other settings with mixed HIV epidemics.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
HIV epidemics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are mainly driven by increasing use of injection drugs combined with heterosexual transmission. In the Ukraine, in 2007, there were 82,000 officially registered people living with HIV—three times the number registered in 1999—and an estimated 395,000 HIV infected adults. The epidemic in Ukraine, like other countries in the region, is concentrated in at-risk populations, particularly people who inject drugs: in 2007, an estimated 390,000 Ukrainians were injecting drugs, an increase in drug use over the previous decade, not only in Ukraine, but in other former USSR states, owing to the easy availability of precursors for injection drugs in a climate of economic collapse.
The common practices of people who inject drugs in Ukraine and in other countries in the region, such as social injecting, syringe sharing, and using common containers, increase the risk of transmitting HIV. Public health interventions such as needle exchange can limit these risk factors and have been gradually implemented in these countries. In 2007, Ukraine approved the use of methadone substitution therapy and the current target is for 11,000 people who inject drugs to be enrolled in substitution therapy by 2011. Furthermore, since treatment for HIV-infected individuals is also necessary, national HIV control plans included a target of 90% antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage by 2010 but in 2007 less than 10% of the 91,000 eligible people received treatment. Although the number of people who inject drugs and who receive ART is unknown, physicians are often reluctant to treat people who inject drugs using ART owing to alleged poor compliance.
Why Was This Study Done?
As resources for HIV interventions in the region are limited, it is important to investigate the appropriate balance between investments in methadone substitution therapy and ART in order to maximize benefits to public health. Several studies have analyzed the cost effectiveness of methadone substitution therapy in similar settings but have not considered tradeoffs between ART and methadone substitution therapy. Therefore, to provide insights into the appropriate public health investment in methadone substitution therapy and ART in Ukraine, the researchers evaluated the public health effectiveness and cost effectiveness of different strategies for scaling up methadone substitution therapy and/or expanding ART.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a model to accommodate different population groups: people who inject drugs on substitution therapy with methadone; people who inject opiates and do not take any substitution therapy; and people who do not inject any drugs, hence do not need substitution therapy. The researchers inputted Ukraine country-level data into this model and used current HIV trends in Ukraine to make rational assumptions on possible future trends and scenarios. They considered scenarios expanding methadone substitution therapy availability, increasing acces to ART, or both. Then, the researchers measured health care costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), HIV prevalence, infections averted, and incremental cost effectiveness for the different scenarios. They found that after 20 years, HIV prevalence reached 67.2% in people who inject drugs and 0.88% in people who do not inject drugs without further interventions. Offering methadone substitution therapy to 25% of people who inject drugs was the most effective strategy in reducing prevalence of HIV and was also the most cost effective, averting 4,700 infections and adding 75,700 QALYs versus the status quo at $530/QALY gained. Expanding both methadone substitution therapy and ART was also a highly cost effective option, adding 105,000 QALYs at US$1,120/QALY gained versus the methadone substitution therapy-only strategy. Offering ART to 80% of eligible people who did not inject drugs, and 10% of people who injected drugs averted only 1,800 infections, and added 76,400 QALYs at $1,330/QALY gained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results show that methadone substitution-focused therapeutic scenarios are the most cost effective, and that benefits increase with the scale of the project, even among people who do not inject drugs. This makes a methadone substitution strategy a highly cost-effective option for addressing the growing HIV epidemic in Ukraine. Therefore, if it is not feasible to invest in large-scale methadone substitution programs for any reason, political circumstances for example, providing as much methadone substitution as is acceptable is still desirable. While substitution therapy appears to avert the most HIV infections, expanded ART provides the largest total increase in QALYs. Thus, methadone substitution therapy and ART offer complementary benefits. Because the HIV epidemic in Ukraine is representative of the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the cost-effective strategies that the researchers have identified may help inform all decision makers faced with a mixed HIV epidemic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000423.
Alliance provides information on its work supporting community action on AIDS in Ukraine
USAID provides an HIV/AIDS Health Profile for Ukraine
UNICEF provides information about its activities to help Ukraine fight rising HIV/AIDS infection rates
International Harm Reduction Association provides information about the status of harm reduction interventions such as methadone substitution therapy around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000423
PMCID: PMC3046988  PMID: 21390264
3.  Male Circumcision at Different Ages in Rwanda: A Cost-Effectiveness Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000211.
Agnes Binagwaho and colleagues predict that circumcision of newborn boys would be effective and cost-saving as a long-term strategy to prevent HIV in Rwanda.
Background
There is strong evidence showing that male circumcision (MC) reduces HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In Rwanda, where adult HIV prevalence is 3%, MC is not a traditional practice. The Rwanda National AIDS Commission modelled cost and effects of MC at different ages to inform policy and programmatic decisions in relation to introducing MC. This study was necessary because the MC debate in Southern Africa has focused primarily on MC for adults. Further, this is the first time, to our knowledge, that a cost-effectiveness study on MC has been carried out in a country where HIV prevalence is below 5%.
Methods and Findings
A cost-effectiveness model was developed and applied to three hypothetical cohorts in Rwanda: newborns, adolescents, and adult men. Effectiveness was defined as the number of HIV infections averted, and was calculated as the product of the number of people susceptible to HIV infection in the cohort, the HIV incidence rate at different ages, and the protective effect of MC; discounted back to the year of circumcision and summed over the life expectancy of the circumcised person. Direct costs were based on interviews with experienced health care providers to determine inputs involved in the procedure (from consumables to staff time) and related prices. Other costs included training, patient counselling, treatment of adverse events, and promotion campaigns, and they were adjusted for the averted lifetime cost of health care (antiretroviral therapy [ART], opportunistic infection [OI], laboratory tests). One-way sensitivity analysis was performed by varying the main inputs of the model, and thresholds were calculated at which each intervention is no longer cost-saving and at which an intervention costs more than one gross domestic product (GDP) per capita per life-year gained. Results: Neonatal MC is less expensive than adolescent and adult MC (US$15 instead of US$59 per procedure) and is cost-saving (the cost-effectiveness ratio is negative), even though savings from infant circumcision will be realized later in time. The cost per infection averted is US$3,932 for adolescent MC and US$4,949 for adult MC. Results for infant MC appear robust. Infant MC remains highly cost-effective across a reasonable range of variation in the base case scenario. Adolescent MC is highly cost-effective for the base case scenario but this high cost-effectiveness is not robust to small changes in the input variables. Adult MC is neither cost-saving nor highly cost-effective when considering only the direct benefit for the circumcised man.
Conclusions
The study suggests that Rwanda should be simultaneously scaling up circumcision across a broad range of age groups, with high priority to the very young. Infant MC can be integrated into existing health services (i.e., neonatal visits and vaccination sessions) and over time has better potential than adolescent and adult circumcision to achieve the very high coverage of the population required for maximal reduction of HIV incidence. In the presence of infant MC, adolescent and adult MC would evolve into a “catch-up” campaign that would be needed at the start of the program but would eventually become superfluous.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed more than 25 million people since 1981 and more than 31 million people (22 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone) are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS and no vaccine against HIV infection. Consequently, prevention of HIV transmission is extremely important. HIV is most often spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. Individuals can reduce their risk of HIV infection, therefore, by abstaining from sex, by having one or a few sexual partners, and by always using a male or female condom. In addition, male circumcision—the removal of the foreskin, the loose fold of skin that covers the head of penis—can halve HIV transmission rates to men resulting from sex with women. Thus, as part of its HIV prevention strategy, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that male circumcision programs be scaled up in countries where there is a generalized HIV epidemic and where few men are circumcised.
Why Was This Study Done?
One such country is Rwanda. Here, 3% of the adult population is infected with HIV but only 15% of men are circumcised—worldwide, about 30% of men are circumcised. Demand for circumcision is increasing in Rwanda but, before policy makers introduce a country-wide male circumcision program, they need to identify the most cost-effective way to increase circumcision rates. In particular, they need to decide the age at which circumcision should be offered. Circumcision soon after birth (neonatal circumcision) is quick and simple and rarely causes any complications. Circumcision of adolescents and adults is more complex and has a higher complication rate. Although several studies have investigated the cost-effectiveness (the balance between the clinical and financial costs of a medical intervention and its benefits) of circumcision in adult men, little is known about its cost-effectiveness in newborn boys. In this study, which is one of several studies on male circumcision being organized by the National AIDS Control Commission in Rwanda, the researchers model the cost-effectiveness of circumcision at different ages.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a simple cost-effectiveness model and applied it to three hypothetical groups of Rwandans: newborn boys, adolescent boys, and adult men. For their model, the researchers calculated the effectiveness of male circumcision (the number of HIV infections averted) by estimating the reduction in the annual number of new HIV infections over time. They obtained estimates of the costs of circumcision (including the costs of consumables, staff time, and treatment of complications) from health care providers and adjusted these costs for the money saved through not needing to treat HIV in males in whom circumcision prevented infection. Using their model, the researchers estimate that each neonatal male circumcision would cost US$15 whereas each adolescent or adult male circumcision would cost US$59. Neonatal male circumcision, they report, would be cost-saving. That is, over a lifetime, neonatal male circumcision would save more money than it costs. Finally, using the WHO definition of cost-effectiveness (for a cost-effective intervention, the additional cost incurred to gain one year of life must be less than a country's per capita gross domestic product), the researchers estimate that, although adolescent circumcision would be highly cost-effective, circumcision of adult men would only be potentially cost-effective (but would likely prove cost-effective if the additional infections that would occur from men to their partners without a circumcision program were also taken into account).
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all modeling studies, the accuracy of these findings depends on the many assumptions included in the model. However, the findings suggest that male circumcision for infants for the prevention of HIV infection later in life is highly cost-effective and likely to be cost-saving and that circumcision for adolescents is cost-effective. The researchers suggest, therefore, that policy makers in Rwanda and in countries with similar HIV infection and circumcision rates should scale up male circumcision programs across all age groups, with high priority being given to the very young. If infants are routinely circumcised, they suggest, circumcision of adolescent and adult males would become a “catch-up” campaign that would be needed at the start of the program but that would become superfluous over time. Such an approach would represent a switch from managing the HIV epidemic as an emergency towards focusing on sustainable, long-term solutions to this major public-health problem.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000211.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Seth Kalichman
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
Information is available from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on HIV infection and AIDS and on male circumcision in relation to HIV and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS in Africa, and on circumcision and HIV (some information in English and Spanish)
More information about male circumcision is available from the Clearinghouse on Male Circumcision
The National AIDS Control Commission of Rwanda provides detailed information about HIV/AIDS in Rwanda (in English and French)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000211
PMCID: PMC2808207  PMID: 20098721
4.  Cost-Effectiveness of an Opportunistic Screening Programme and Brief Intervention for Excessive Alcohol Use in Primary Care 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5696.
Background
Effective prevention of excessive alcohol use has the potential to reduce the public burden of disease considerably. We investigated the cost-effectiveness of Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) for excessive alcohol use in primary care in the Netherlands, which is targeted at early detection and treatment of ‘at-risk’ drinkers.
Methodology and Results
We compared a SBI scenario (opportunistic screening and brief intervention for ‘at-risk’ drinkers) in general practices with the current practice scenario (no SBI) in the Netherlands. We used the RIVM Chronic Disease Model (CDM) to extrapolate from decreased alcohol consumption to effects on health care costs and Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) gained. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was employed to study the effect of uncertainty in the model parameters. In total, 56,000 QALYs were gained at an additional cost of €298,000,000 due to providing alcohol SBI in the target population, resulting in a cost-effectiveness ratio of €5,400 per QALY gained.
Conclusion
Prevention of excessive alcohol use by implementing SBI for excessive alcohol use in primary care settings appears to be cost-effective.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005696
PMCID: PMC2682644  PMID: 19479081
5.  The polypill in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: cost-effectiveness in the Dutch population 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000363.
Objectives
The aim of the present study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the polypill in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Design
A health economic modelling study.
Setting
Primary healthcare in the Netherlands.
Participants
Simulated individuals from the general Dutch population, aged 45–75 years.
Interventions
Opportunistic screening followed by prescription of the polypill to eligible individuals. Eligibility was defined as having a minimum 10-year risk of cardiovascular death as assessed with the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation function of alternatively 5%, 7.5% or 10%. Different versions of the polypill were considered, depending on composition: (1) the Indian polycap, with three different types of blood pressure-lowering drugs, a statin and aspirin; (2) as (1) but without aspirin and (3) as (2) but with a double statin dose. In addition, a scenario of (targeted) separate antihypertensive and/or statin medication was simulated.
Primary outcome measures
Cases of acute myocardial infarction or stroke prevented, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained and the costs per QALY gained. All interventions were compared with usual care.
Results
All scenarios were cost-effective with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio between €7900 and 12 300 per QALY compared with usual care. Most health gains were achieved with the polypill without aspirin and containing a double dose of statins. With a 10-year risk of 7.5% as the threshold, this pill would prevent approximately 3.5% of all cardiovascular events.
Conclusions
Opportunistic screening based on global cardiovascular risk assessment followed by polypill prescription to those with increased risk offers a cost-effective strategy. Most health gain is achieved by the polypill without aspirin and a double statin dose.
Article summary
Article focus
Cardiovascular diseases continue to be still a major, partly preventable, cause of illness and death.
A polypill that lowers by targeting several risk factors simultaneously is in line with the concept that the aim in primary prevention should be to bring down ‘global’ cardiovascular risk.
The aim of this study was to estimate the potential cost-effectiveness of polypill prescription after opportunistic screening.
Key messages
The results of this study suggest that opportunistic screening and offering a polypill to people with a minimum 10-year risk of cardiovascular mortality of alternatively 5%, 7.5% or 10% is a cost-effective strategy.
A polypill without aspirin but with a double dose of simvastatin leads to most health gains at all risk thresholds considered. At a 10-year risk of cardiovascular death of ≥7.5%, such a strategy would lead to an estimated decrease in the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke of about 3.5%, at a cost of €8900 per quality-adjusted life year.
Opportunistic screening of the population of ≥40 years to select individuals with a mild to moderately increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, followed by polypill prescription would prevent approximately 3.5% of all cardiovascular events.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strong point of the study is that different compositions of the polypill have been modelled. Also, realistic estimates for adherence and compliance have been used.
As only preliminary results of a phase II clinical trial on efficacy of the polypill were available, we had to apply mathematical modelling to estimate cost-effectiveness. This provides insight into the range of health benefits that can be expected. Pending results with regard to established clinical endpoints from large-scale phase III trials, the results of this study should not be taken as a precise estimate of the cost-effectiveness of the polypill.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000363
PMCID: PMC3278482  PMID: 22189351
6.  Can Broader Diffusion of Value-Based Insurance Design Increase Benefits from US Health Care without Increasing Costs? Evidence from a Computer Simulation Model 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000234.
Using a computer simulation based on US data, R. Scott Braithwaite and colleagues calculate the benefits of value-based insurance design, in which patients pay less for highly cost-effective services.
Background
Evidence suggests that cost sharing (i.e.,copayments and deductibles) decreases health expenditures but also reduces essential care. Value-based insurance design (VBID) has been proposed to encourage essential care while controlling health expenditures. Our objective was to estimate the impact of broader diffusion of VBID on US health care benefits and costs.
Methods and Findings
We used a published computer simulation of costs and life expectancy gains from US health care to estimate the impact of broader diffusion of VBID. Two scenarios were analyzed: (1) applying VBID solely to pharmacy benefits and (2) applying VBID to both pharmacy benefits and other health care services (e.g., devices). We assumed that cost sharing would be eliminated for high-value services (<$100,000 per life-year), would remain unchanged for intermediate- or unknown-value services ($100,000–$300,000 per life-year or unknown), and would be increased for low-value services (>$300,000 per life-year). All costs are provided in 2003 US dollars. Our simulation estimated that approximately 60% of health expenditures in the US are spent on low-value services, 20% are spent on intermediate-value services, and 20% are spent on high-value services. Correspondingly, the vast majority (80%) of health expenditures would have cost sharing that is impacted by VBID. With prevailing patterns of cost sharing, health care conferred 4.70 life-years at a per-capita annual expenditure of US$5,688. Broader diffusion of VBID to pharmaceuticals increased the benefit conferred by health care by 0.03 to 0.05 additional life-years, without increasing costs and without increasing out-of-pocket payments. Broader diffusion of VBID to other health care services could increase the benefit conferred by health care by 0.24 to 0.44 additional life-years, also without increasing costs and without increasing overall out-of-pocket payments. Among those without health insurance, using cost saving from VBID to subsidize insurance coverage would increase the benefit conferred by health care by 1.21 life-years, a 31% increase.
Conclusion
Broader diffusion of VBID may amplify benefits from US health care without increasing health expenditures.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
More money is spent per person on health care in the US than in any other country. US health care expenditure accounts for 16.2% of the gross domestic product and this figure is rising. Indeed, the increase in health care costs is outstripping the economy's growth rate. Consequently, US policy makers and providers of health insurance—health care in the US is largely provided by the private sector and is paid for through private health insurance or through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid—are looking for better ways to control health expenditures. Although some health care cost reductions can be achieved by increasing efficiency, controlling the quantity of health care consumed is an essential component of strategies designed to reduce health expenditures. These strategies can target health care providers (for example, by requiring primary care physicians to provide referrals before their patients' insurance provides cover for specialist care) or can target consumers, often through cost sharing. Nowadays, most insurance plans include several tiers of cost sharing in which patients pay a larger proportion of the costs of expensive interventions than of cheap interventions.
Why Was This Study Done?
Cost sharing decreases health expenditure but it can also reduce demand for essential care and thus reduce the quality of care. Consequently, some experts have proposed value-based insurance design (VBID), an approach in which the amount of cost sharing is set according to the “value” of an intervention rather than its cost. The value of an intervention is defined as the ratio of the additional benefits to the additional costs of the intervention when compared to the next best alternative intervention. Under VBID, cost sharing could be waived for office visits necessary to control blood pressure in people with diabetes, which deliver high-value care, but could be increased for high-tech scans for dementia, which deliver low-value care. VBID has been adopted by several private health insurance schemes and its core principal is endorsed by US policy makers. However, it is unclear whether wider use of VBID is warranted. In this study, the researchers use a computer simulation of the US health care system to estimate the impact of broader diffusion of VBID on US health care benefits and costs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used their computer simulation to estimate the impact of applying VBID to cost sharing for drugs alone and to cost sharing for drugs, procedures, and other health care services for one million hypothetical US patients. In their simulation, the researchers eliminated cost sharing for services that cost less than US$100,000 per life-year gained (high-value services) and increased cost-sharing for services that cost more than US$300,000 per life-year gained (low-value services); cost-sharing remained unchanged for intermediate- or unknown-value services. With the current pattern of cost sharing, 60% of health expenditure is spent on low-value services and health care increases life expectancy by 4.70 years for an annual per person expenditure of US$5,688, the researchers report. With widespread application of VBID to cost sharing for drugs alone, health care increased life expectancy by an additional 0.03 to 0.05 years without increasing costs. With widespread application of VBID to cost sharing for other health care services, health care increased life expectancy by a further 0.24 to 0.44 years without additional costs. Finally, if the costs saved by applying VBID were used to subsidize insurance for the 15% of the US population currently without health insurance, the benefit conferred by health care among these people would increase by 1.21 life-years.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study depend on the many assumptions included in the computer simulation, which, although complex, is a greatly simplified representation of the US health care system. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that if VBID were used more widely within the US health care system to encourage the use of high-value services, it might be possible to amplify the benefits from US health care without increasing health expenditures. Importantly, the money saved by VBID could be used to help fund universal insurance, a central aim of US health care reform. More research is needed, however, to determine the value of various health care interventions and to investigate whether other ways of linking value to cost sharing might yield even better gains in life expectancy at little or no additional cost.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000234.
Wikipedia has a page on health care in the United States (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Families USA works to promote high-quality affordable health care for all Americans and provides information about all aspects of US health care and about US health care reforms
The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid provides information on the major government health insurance programs and on US national health expenditure statistics
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000234
PMCID: PMC2821897  PMID: 20169114
7.  Clinical Benefits, Costs, and Cost-Effectiveness of Neonatal Intensive Care in Mexico 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000379.
Joshua Salomon and colleagues performed a cost-effectiveness analysis using health and economic outcomes following preterm birth in Mexico and showed that neonatal intensive care provided high value for the money in this setting.
Background
Neonatal intensive care improves survival, but is associated with high costs and disability amongst survivors. Recent health reform in Mexico launched a new subsidized insurance program, necessitating informed choices on the different interventions that might be covered by the program, including neonatal intensive care. The purpose of this study was to estimate the clinical outcomes, costs, and cost-effectiveness of neonatal intensive care in Mexico.
Methods and Findings
A cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted using a decision analytic model of health and economic outcomes following preterm birth. Model parameters governing health outcomes were estimated from Mexican vital registration and hospital discharge databases, supplemented with meta-analyses and systematic reviews from the published literature. Costs were estimated on the basis of data provided by the Ministry of Health in Mexico and World Health Organization price lists, supplemented with published studies from other countries as needed. The model estimated changes in clinical outcomes, life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy, lifetime costs, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for neonatal intensive care compared to no intensive care. Uncertainty around the results was characterized using one-way sensitivity analyses and a multivariate probabilistic sensitivity analysis. In the base-case analysis, neonatal intensive care for infants born at 24–26, 27–29, and 30–33 weeks gestational age prolonged life expectancy by 28, 43, and 34 years and averted 9, 15, and 12 DALYs, at incremental costs per infant of US$11,400, US$9,500, and US$3,000, respectively, compared to an alternative of no intensive care. The ICERs of neonatal intensive care at 24–26, 27–29, and 30–33 weeks were US$1,200, US$650, and US$240, per DALY averted, respectively. The findings were robust to variation in parameter values over wide ranges in sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions
Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for neonatal intensive care imply very high value for money on the basis of conventional benchmarks for cost-effectiveness analysis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks but increasing numbers of babies are being born preterm, before they reach 37 weeks of gestation (the period during which a baby develops in its mother). In developed countries and some middle-income countries such as Mexico, improvements in the care of newborn babies (neonatal intensive care) mean that more preterm babies survive now than in the past. Nevertheless, preterm birth is still a major cause of infant death worldwide that challenges attainment of Target 5 of Millennium Development Goal 4—the reduction of the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds of the 1990 rate by 2015 (the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, aim to reduce world poverty). Furthermore, many preterm babies who survive have long-term health problems and disabilities such as cerebral palsy, deafness, or learning difficulties. The severity of these disabilities and their long-term costs to families and to society depend on the baby's degree of prematurity.
Why Was This Study Done?
Mexico recently reformed its health system in an effort to improve access to care, particularly for the poorest sections of its population, and to improve the quality of its health care. The central component of this health care reform is the System of Social Protection of Health (SSPH). The SSPH contains a family health insurance program—Seguro Popular—that aims to provide the 50 million uninsured people living in Mexico with free access to an explicit set of health care interventions. As with any insurance program, decisions have to be made about which interventions Seguro Poplar should cover. Should neonatal intensive care be covered, for example? Do the benefits of this intervention (increased survival of babies) outweigh the costs of neonatal care and of long-term care for survivors with disabilities? In other words, is neonatal intensive care cost-effective? In this study, the researchers investigate this question by estimating the clinical benefits, costs, and cost-effectiveness of neonatal intensive care in Mexico.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers built a decision analytic model, a mathematical model that combines evidence on the outcomes and costs of alternative treatments to help inform decisions about health care policy. They gathered data about the health outcomes of preterm births in Mexico from registers of births and deaths and from hospital discharge databases, and estimated the costs of neonatal intensive care and long-term care for disabled survivors using data from the Mexican Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. They then applied their model, which estimates changes in parameters such as life expectancy, lifetime costs, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs; one DALY represents the loss of a year of healthy life), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs; the additional cost expended for each DALY averted) for neonatal intensive care compared to no intensive care, to a group of 2 million infants. Neonatal intensive care for infants born at 24–26, 27–29, and 30–33 weeks gestation prolonged life expectancy by 28, 43, and 34 years and averted 9, 15, and 12 DALYs at incremental costs of US$11,000, US$10,000, and US$3000, respectively, compared to no intensive care. The ICERs of neonatal intensive care for babies born at these times were US$1200, US$700, and US$300 per DALY averted, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Interventions with ICERs of less than a country's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) are highly cost-effective; those with ICERs of 1–3 times the per capita GDP are potentially cost-effective. Mexico's per capita GDP in 2005 was approximately US$8,200. Thus, neonatal intensive care could provide exceptional value for money in Mexico (and maybe in other middle-income countries), even for very premature babies. The accuracy of these findings inevitably depends on the assumptions used to build the decision analytic model and on the accuracy of the data fed into it, but the findings were little changed by a wide range of alterations that the researchers made to the model. Importantly, however, this cost-effectiveness analysis focuses on health and economic consequences of different intervention choices, and does not capture all aspects of well-being. Decisions regarding neonatal intensive care will need to be based on a full consideration of all relevant factors, including ethical issues, and cost-effectiveness analyses should continue to be updated as new data emerge on health outcomes and costs associated with neonatal intensive care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000379.
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, another nonprofit organization for child health, also provides information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to other information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4 and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health (some information in several languages)
A PLoS Medicine Policy Forum by Núria Homedes and Antonio Ugalde discusses health care reforms in Mexico
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000379
PMCID: PMC3001895  PMID: 21179496
8.  Food Pricing Strategies, Population Diets, and Non-Communicable Disease: A Systematic Review of Simulation Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(12):e1001353.
A systematic review of simulation studies conducted by Helen Eyles and colleagues examines the association between food pricing strategies and food consumption and health and disease outcomes.
Background
Food pricing strategies have been proposed to encourage healthy eating habits, which may in turn help stem global increases in non-communicable diseases. This systematic review of simulation studies investigates the estimated association between food pricing strategies and changes in food purchases or intakes (consumption) (objective 1); Health and disease outcomes (objective 2), and whether there are any differences in these outcomes by socio-economic group (objective 3).
Methods and Findings
Electronic databases, Internet search engines, and bibliographies of included studies were searched for articles published in English between 1 January 1990 and 24 October 2011 for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Where ≥3 studies examined the same pricing strategy and consumption (purchases or intake) or health outcome, results were pooled, and a mean own-price elasticity (own-PE) estimated (the own-PE represents the change in demand with a 1% change in price of that good). Objective 1: pooled estimates were possible for the following: (1) taxes on carbonated soft drinks: own-PE (n = 4 studies), −0.93 (range, −0.06, −2.43), and a modelled −0.02% (−0.01%, −0.04%) reduction in energy (calorie) intake for each 1% price increase (n = 3 studies); (2) taxes on saturated fat: −0.02% (−0.01%, −0.04%) reduction in energy intake from saturated fat per 1% price increase (n = 5 studies); and (3) subsidies on fruits and vegetables: own-PE (n = 3 studies), −0.35 (−0.21, −0.77). Objectives 2 and 3: variability of food pricing strategies and outcomes prevented pooled analyses, although higher quality studies suggested unintended compensatory purchasing that could result in overall effects being counter to health. Eleven of 14 studies evaluating lower socio-economic groups estimated that food pricing strategies would be associated with pro-health outcomes. Food pricing strategies also have the potential to reduce disparities.
Conclusions
Based on modelling studies, taxes on carbonated drinks and saturated fat and subsidies on fruits and vegetables would be associated with beneficial dietary change, with the potential for improved health. Additional research into possible compensatory purchasing and population health outcomes is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
For the first time in human history, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are killing more people than infectious diseases. Every year, more than 35 million people die from NCDs—nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. More than 80% of these deaths are in developing countries, where a third of NCD-related deaths occur in people younger than 60 years old. And NCDs are not just a growing global public health emergency. They are also financially costly because they reduce productivity and increase calls on health care systems worldwide. Cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and circulation such as heart attacks and stroke), cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases (long-term diseases that affect the lungs and airways) are responsible for most NCD-related illnesses and death. The main behavioral risk factors for all these diseases are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets (diets that have a low fruit and vegetable intake and high saturated fat and salt intakes).
Why Was This Study Done?
Improvements in population diets and reductions in salt intake are crucial for the control and prevention of NCDs, but how can these behavioral changes be encouraged? One potential but poorly studied strategy is food pricing—the introduction of taxes on unhealthy foods (for example, foods containing high levels of saturated fat) and subsidies on healthy foods (for example, foods high in fiber). However, although a tax on soft drinks, for example, might decrease purchases of these high-sugar drinks, it might also increase purchases of fruit juices, which contain just as much sugar and energy as soft drinks (“compensatory purchasing”), and thus undermine the intended health impact of the tax. Because randomized controlled trials of the effects of food pricing strategies are difficult to undertake, many researchers have turned to mathematical models (sets of equations that quantify relationships between interventions and outcomes) to provide the evidence needed to inform policy decisions on food taxes and subsidies. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), Helen Eyles and colleagues investigate the association between food pricing strategies and food consumption and NCDs by analyzing the results of published mathematical modeling studies of food pricing interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 32 studies that met their predefined inclusion criteria, which included publication by researchers in a member country of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (a group of largely developed countries that promotes global development). Most of the studies were of low to moderate quality and provided uncertain and varying estimates of the impact of pricing on food consumption. Where three or more studies examined the same pricing strategy and consumption or health outcome, the researchers calculated the average change in demand for a food in response to changes in its price (“own-price elasticity”). For taxes on carbonated soft drinks, the average own-price elasticity was −0.93; that is, the models predicted that a 1% increase in the price of soft drinks would decrease consumption by 0.93%. The modeled reduction in the proportion of energy intake from saturated fat resulting from a 1% increase in the price of saturated fats was 0.02%. Finally, although the researchers' analysis suggested that for each 1% reduction in the price of fruits and vegetables, consumption would increase by 0.35%, they also found evidence that such a subsidy might result in compensatory purchasing, such as a reduction in fish purchases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that pricing strategies have the potential to produce improvements in population diets, at least in developed countries, but also highlight the need for more research in this area. Notably, the researchers found insufficient data to allow them to quantify the effects of pricing strategies on health or to analyze whether the effect of pricing strategies is likely vary between socio-economic groups. Given their findings, the researchers suggest that future modeling studies should include better assessments of the unintended effects of compensatory purchasing and should examine the potential impact of food pricing strategies on long-term health and NCD-related deaths. Finally, they suggest that robust evaluations should be built into the implementation of food pricing policies to answer some of the outstanding questions about this potential strategy for reducing the global burden of NCDs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001353.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living, on chronic diseases and health promotion, and on non-communicable diseases around the world
The Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) aims to help low- and middle-income countries reduce NCD-related illnesses and death through implementation of the 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (also available in French); NCDnet's Face to face with chronic disease webpage is a selection of personal stories from around the world about dealing with NCDs
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society provide information on many important risk factors for non-communicable diseases and include some personal stories about keeping healthy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001353
PMCID: PMC3519906  PMID: 23239943
9.  Screening of healthcare workers for tuberculosis: development and validation of a new health economic model to inform practice 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000630.
Background
Methods for determining cost-effectiveness of different treatments are well established, unlike appraisal of non-drug interventions, including novel diagnostics and biomarkers.
Objective
The authors develop and validate a new health economic model by comparing cost-effectiveness of tuberculin skin test (TST); blood test, interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) and TST followed by IGRA in conditional sequence, in screening healthcare workers for latent or active tuberculosis (TB).
Design
The authors focus on healthy life years gained as the benefit metric, rather than quality-adjusted life years given limited data to estimate quality adjustments of life years with TB and complications of treatment, like hepatitis. Healthy life years gained refer to the number of TB or hepatitis cases avoided and the increase in life expectancy. The authors incorporate disease and test parameters informed by systematic meta-analyses and clinical practice. Health and economic outcomes of each strategy are modelled as a decision tree in Markov chains, representing different health states informed by epidemiology. Cost and effectiveness values are generated as the individual is cycled through 20 years of the model. Key parameters undergo one-way and Monte Carlo probabilistic sensitivity analyses.
Setting
Screening healthcare workers in secondary and tertiary care.
Results
IGRA is the most effective strategy, with incremental costs per healthy life year gained of £10 614–£20 929, base case, £8021–£18 348, market costs TST £45, IGRA £90, IGRA specificities of 99%–97%; mean (5%, 95%), £12 060 (£4137–£38 418) by Monte Carlo analysis.
Conclusions
Incremental costs per healthy life year gained, a conservative estimate of benefit, are comparable to the £20 000–£30 000 NICE band for IGRA alone, across wide differences in disease and test parameters. Health gains justify IGRA costs, even if IGRA tests cost three times TST. This health economic model offers a powerful tool for appraising non-drug interventions in the market and under development.
Article summary
Article focus
Methods for determining cost-effectiveness of different treatments are well established unlike the appraisal of non-drug interventions, including novel diagnostics and biomarkers.
We develop and validate a new health economic model by comparing cost-effectiveness of tuberculin skin test (TST) and/or a tuberculosis (TB) blood test, interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA), in screening healthcare workers for latent or active TB.
We investigate gains in healthy life years, without TB or hepatitis, in a comprehensive model informed by epidemiology, meta-analysis and clinical practice, testing disease and test parameters by one-way and Monte Carlo probabilistic sensitivity analyses.
Key messages
IGRA is the most effective strategy when screening healthcare workers for latent or active TB.
IGRA screening has an incremental cost per healthy life year gained of £10 614–£20 929, base case, £8021–£18 348, market costs, TST £45, IGRA £90, IGRA specificities 99%–97%; mean (5%, 95%), £12 060 (£4137–£38 418) by Monte Carlo analysis.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Screening with IGRA alone appears cost-effective since incremental costs per healthy life year gained, a conservative estimate of benefit, are at the lower end of the £20 000–£30 000 NICE band.
Neither TST nor IGRA differentiate latent from active TB, and the specificity of IGRA is inferred from studies in populations at low risk of TB.
These findings are robust for wide differences in disease and test parameters, such as if IGRA test costs are three times TST costs, suggesting that this health economic model is a powerful tool for appraising non-drug interventions in the market and under development.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000630
PMCID: PMC3293131  PMID: 22382118
10.  Rapid Diagnosis of Tuberculosis with the Xpert MTB/RIF Assay in High Burden Countries: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001120.
A cost-effectiveness study by Frank Cobelens and colleagues reveals that Xpert MTB/RIF is a cost-effective method of tuberculosis diagnosis that is suitable for use in low- and middle-income settings.
Background
Xpert MTB/RIF (Xpert) is a promising new rapid diagnostic technology for tuberculosis (TB) that has characteristics that suggest large-scale roll-out. However, because the test is expensive, there are concerns among TB program managers and policy makers regarding its affordability for low- and middle-income settings.
Methods and Findings
We estimate the impact of the introduction of Xpert on the costs and cost-effectiveness of TB care using decision analytic modelling, comparing the introduction of Xpert to a base case of smear microscopy and clinical diagnosis in India, South Africa, and Uganda. The introduction of Xpert increases TB case finding in all three settings; from 72%–85% to 95%–99% of the cohort of individuals with suspected TB, compared to the base case. Diagnostic costs (including the costs of testing all individuals with suspected TB) also increase: from US$28–US$49 to US$133–US$146 and US$137–US$151 per TB case detected when Xpert is used “in addition to” and “as a replacement of” smear microscopy, respectively. The incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for using Xpert “in addition to” smear microscopy, compared to the base case, range from US$41–$110 per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted. Likewise the ICERS for using Xpert “as a replacement of” smear microscopy range from US$52–$138 per DALY averted. These ICERs are below the World Health Organization (WHO) willingness to pay threshold.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that Xpert is a cost-effective method of TB diagnosis, compared to a base case of smear microscopy and clinical diagnosis of smear-negative TB in low- and middle-income settings where, with its ability to substantially increase case finding, it has important potential for improving TB diagnosis and control. The extent of cost-effectiveness gain to TB programmes from deploying Xpert is primarily dependent on current TB diagnostic practices. Further work is required during scale-up to validate these findings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease that infects one-third of the world's population. The disease is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that most commonly infects the lungs (known as pulmonary TB) and is transmitted from person to person when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks. The symptoms of TB include chest pain, weight loss, fever, and a persistent cough that sometimes contains blood. Only 5%–10% of people who are infected with TB become sick or infectious, but people with weakened immune systems, such as individuals who are HIV-positive, are more likely to develop the disease. TB is estimated to have killed 1.7 million people in 2009 and is currently the leading cause of death among people infected with HIV.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although TB can be treated with a six-month course of antibiotics, effectively diagnosing TB is not always straightforward and drug resistance is becoming an increasing problem. One of the most common and simple methods to diagnose TB is a technique called sputum smear microscopy, which involves examining matter from the lungs under a microscope for the presence of TB-causing bacteria. However, despite being cheap and relatively simple, the test does not always detect active TB (smear-negative) and cannot determine whether the TB-causing bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. The World Health Organization has recently endorsed a new rapid test, called Xpert MTB/RIF (referred to as Xpert), for the initial diagnosis of TB. The test uses DNA amplification methods to reliably and quickly detect TB and whether infecting bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic rifampicin. The new test is expensive so there are concerns that the test might not be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called modeling to simulate the outcome of 10,000 individuals with suspected TB as they went through a hypothetical diagnostic and treatment pathway. The model compared the costs associated with the introduction of Xpert to a base case for two different scenarios. In the base case all individuals with suspected TB had two sputum smear microscopy examinations followed by clinical diagnosis if they were smear-negative. For the different scenarios Xpert was either used in addition to the two sputum smear microscopy examinations (if the patient was smear-negative) or Xpert was used as a replacement for sputum smear microscopy for all patients. Different input parameters, based on country-specific estimates, were applied so that the model reflected the implementation of Xpert in India, South Africa, and Uganda.
In the researcher's model the introduction of Xpert increased the proportion of TB-infected patients who were correctly diagnosed with TB in any of the settings. However, the cost per TB case detected increased by approximately US$100 in both scenarios. Although the cost of detection increased significantly, the cost of treatment increased only moderately because the number of false-positive cases was reduced. For example, the percentage of treatment costs spent on false-positive diagnoses in India was predicted to fall from 22% to 4% when Xpert was used to replace sputum smear microscopy. The model was used to calculate incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs—the additional cost of each disability-adjusted life year [DALY] averted) for the different scenarios of Xpert implementation in the different settings. In comparison to the base case, introducing Xpert in addition to sputum smear microscopy produced ICERs ranging from US$41 to US$110 per DALY averted, while introducing Xpert instead of sputum smear microscopy yielded ICERs ranging from US$52 to US$138 per DALY averted.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings suggest that the implementation of Xpert in addition to, or instead of, sputum smear microscopy will be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries. The calculated ICERs are below the World Health Organization's “willingness to pay threshold” for all settings. That is the incremental cost of each DALY averted by introduction of Xpert is below the gross domestic product per capita for each country ($1,134 for India, $5,786 South Africa, and $490 for Uganda in 2010). However, the authors note that achieving ICERs below the “willingness to pay threshold” does not necessarily mean that countries have the resources to implement the test. The researchers also note that there are limitations to their study; additional unknown costs associated with the scale-up of Xpert and some parameters, such as patient costs, were not included in the model. Although the model strongly suggests that Xpert will be cost-effective, the researchers caution that initial roll-out of Xpert should be carefully monitored and evaluated before full scale-up.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001120.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including tuberculosis diagnostics and the Stop TB Partnership (some information is in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, including information on the diagnosis of tuberculosis disease
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001120
PMCID: PMC3210757  PMID: 22087078
11.  Cost-effectiveness of enzyme replacement therapy for type 1 Gaucher disease 
Objective
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) compared to standard medical care without ERT in the Dutch cohort of patients with type 1 Gaucher disease (GD I).
Design
Cost-effectiveness analysis was performed using a life-time state-transition model of the disease’s natural course. Transition probabilities, effectiveness data and costs were derived from retrospective data and prospective follow-up of the Dutch study cohort.
Setting
The tertiary referral center for Gaucher disease in the Netherlands.
Participants
The Dutch cohort of patients with GD I.
Intervention
ERT versus standard medical care without ERT in symptomatic patients.
Main outcome measures
Years free of end organ damage (YFEOD) (splenectomy, bone complication, malignancy, multiple complications), quality adjusted life years (QALY), and costs.
Results
Over an 85 year lifetime, an untreated GD I patient will generate 48.9 YFEOD and 55.86 QALYs. Starting ERT in a symptomatic patient increases the YFEOD by 12.8 years, while the number of QALYs gained increases by 6.27. The average yearly ERT medication costs range between €124,000 and €258,000 per patient. The lifetime costs of ERT starting in the symptomatic stage are €5,716,473 against €171,780 without ERT, a difference of €5,544,693. Consequently, the extra costs per additional YFEOD or per additional QALY are €434,416 and €884,994 respectively. After discounting effects by 1.5% and costs by 4% and under a reasonable scenario of ERT unit cost reduction by 25%, these incremental cost-effectiveness ratios could decrease to €149,857 and €324,812 respectively.
Discussion
ERT is a highly potential drug for GD I with substantial health gains. The conservatively estimated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios are substantially lower than for Pompe and Fabry disease. We suggest that the high effectiveness has contributed importantly to acceptance of reimbursement of ERT for GD I. The present study may further support discussions on acceptable price limits for ultra-orphan products.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-9-51
PMCID: PMC4022049  PMID: 24731506
12.  Raising Taxes to Reduce Smoking Prevalence in the US: A Simulation of the Anticipated Health and Economic Impacts 
Public health  2007;122(1):3-10.
Objective
To estimate health and economic outcomes of raising the excise taxes on cigarettes.
Methods
We use a dynamic computer simulation model to estimate health and economic impacts of raising taxes on cigarettes (up to 100% price increase) for the entire population of USA over 20 years. We also perform sensitivity analysis on price elasticity.
Results
A 40% tax-induced cigarette price increase would reduce smoking prevalence from 21% in 2004 to 15.2% in 2025 with large gains in cumulative life years (7 million) and quality adjusted life years (13 million) over 20 years. Total tax revenue will increase by $365 billion in that span, and total smoking-related medical costs would drop by $317 billion, resulting in total savings of $682 billion. These benefits increase greatly with larger tax increases, and tax revenues continue to rise even as smoking prevalence falls.
Conclusions
Increasing taxes on cigarettes is a unique policy intervention that reduces smoking prevalence, generates additional tax revenue, and results in significant savings in medical care costs.
doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2007.02.020
PMCID: PMC2246022  PMID: 17610918
Smoking; Tax; simulation; QALYs; system dynamics; health impacts; economic impacts; price elasticity
13.  Modeling the Cost-Effectiveness of Health Care Systems for Alcohol Use Disorders: How Implementation of eHealth Interventions Improves Cost-Effectiveness 
Background
Informing policy decisions about the cost-effectiveness of health care systems (ie, packages of clinical interventions) is probably best done using a modeling approach. To this end, an alcohol model (ALCMOD) was developed.
Objective
The aim of ALCMOD is to estimate the cost-effectiveness of competing health care systems in curbing alcohol use at the national level. This is illustrated for scenarios where new eHealth technologies for alcohol use disorders are introduced in the Dutch health care system.
Method
ALCMOD assesses short-term (12-month) incremental cost-effectiveness in terms of reductions in disease burden, that is, disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and health care budget impacts.
Results
Introduction of new eHealth technologies would substantially increase the cost-effectiveness of the Dutch health care system for alcohol use disorders: every euro spent under the current system returns a value of about the same size (€ 1.08, ie, a “surplus” of 8 euro cents) while the new health care system offers much better returns on investment, that is, every euro spent generates € 1.62 in health-related value.
Conclusion
Based on the best available evidence, ALCMOD's computations suggest that implementation of new eHealth technologies would make the Dutch health care system more cost-effective. This type of information may help (1) to identify opportunities for system innovation, (2) to set agendas for further research, and (3) to inform policy decisions about resource allocation.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1694
PMCID: PMC3222169  PMID: 21840836
Alcohol-related disorders; early intervention; health care systems; cost-effectiveness
14.  Cost-effectiveness analysis of azacitidine in the treatment of high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes in Spain 
Background
The objective of the study was to analyse whether azacitidine is a cost-effective option for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome in the Spanish setting compared with conventional care regimens, including best supportive care, low dose chemotherapy and standard dose chemotherapy.
Methods
A life-time Markov model was constructed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of azacitidine compared with conventional care regimens. The health states modelled were: myelodysplastic syndrome, acute myeloid leukemia and death. Variables measured included survival rates, progression probabilities and quality of life indicators. Resource use and cost data reflect the Spanish context. The analysis was performed from the Spanish National Health System perspective, discounting both costs (in 2012 euros) and future effects at 3%. The time horizon considered was end-of-life. Results were expressed in cost per quality-adjusted life-year gained and cost per life-year gained and compared with cost-effectiveness thresholds.
Results
According to the current use of each conventional care regimens options in Spain, azacitidine resulted in €34,673 per quality-adjusted life-year gained (€28,891 per life-year gained) with an increase of 1.89 in quality-adjusted life-years (2.26 in life-years). Azacitidine was superior to best supportive care and low dose chemotherapy in terms of quality-adjusted life-years gained, 1.82 and 2.03, respectively (life-years 2.16 vs. best supportive care, 2.39 vs. low dose chemotherapy). Treatment with azacitidine resulted in longer survival time and thus longer treatment time and lifetime costs. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was €39,610 per quality-adjusted life-year gained vs. best supportive care and €30,531 per quality-adjusted life-year gained vs. low dose chemotherapy (€33,111 per life-year gained vs. best supportive care and €25,953 per life-year gained vs. low dose chemotherapy).
Conclusions
The analysis showed that the use of azacitidine in the treatment of high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome is a cost-effective option compared with conventional care regimen options used in the Spanish setting and had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio within the range of the thresholds accepted by health authorities.
doi:10.1186/2191-1991-3-28
PMCID: PMC4029489  PMID: 24314138
Cost-effectiveness; Myelodysplastic syndrome; Azacitidine; Chemotherapy; Best supportive care
15.  The cost-effectiveness and public health benefit of nalmefene added to psychosocial support for the reduction of alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent patients with high/very high drinking risk levels: a Markov model 
BMJ Open  2014;4(9):e005376.
Objectives
To determine whether nalmefene combined with psychosocial support is cost-effective compared with psychosocial support alone for reducing alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent patients with high/very high drinking risk levels (DRLs) as defined by the WHO, and to evaluate the public health benefit of reducing harmful alcohol-attributable diseases, injuries and deaths.
Design
Decision modelling using Markov chains compared costs and effects over 5 years.
Setting
The analysis was from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Wales.
Participants
The model considered the licensed population for nalmefene, specifically adults with both alcohol dependence and high/very high DRLs, who do not require immediate detoxification and who continue to have high/very high DRLs after initial assessment.
Data sources
We modelled treatment effect using data from three clinical trials for nalmefene (ESENSE 1 (NCT00811720), ESENSE 2 (NCT00812461) and SENSE (NCT00811941)). Baseline characteristics of the model population, treatment resource utilisation and utilities were from these trials. We estimated the number of alcohol-attributable events occurring at different levels of alcohol consumption based on published epidemiological risk-relation studies. Health-related costs were from UK sources.
Main outcome measures
We measured incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained and number of alcohol-attributable harmful events avoided.
Results
Nalmefene in combination with psychosocial support had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £5204 per QALY gained, and was therefore cost-effective at the £20 000 per QALY gained decision threshold. Sensitivity analyses showed that the conclusion was robust. Nalmefene plus psychosocial support led to the avoidance of 7179 alcohol-attributable diseases/injuries and 309 deaths per 100 000 patients compared to psychosocial support alone over the course of 5 years.
Conclusions
Nalmefene can be seen as a cost-effective treatment for alcohol dependence, with substantial public health benefits.
Trial registration numbers
This cost-effectiveness analysis was developed based on data from three randomised clinical trials: ESENSE 1 (NCT00811720), ESENSE 2 (NCT00812461) and SENSE (NCT00811941).
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005376
PMCID: PMC4166142  PMID: 25227627
Nalmefene; Alcohol dependence; Cost-effectiveness; Cost-utility; QALY; Economic analysis
16.  Effect of the California Tobacco Control Program on Personal Health Care Expenditures 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(8):e178.
Background
Large state tobacco control programs have been shown to reduce smoking and would be expected to affect health care costs. We investigate the effect of California's large-scale tobacco control program on aggregate personal health care expenditures in the state.
Methods and Findings
Cointegrating regressions were used to predict (1) the difference in per capita cigarette consumption between California and 38 control states as a function of the difference in cumulative expenditures of the California and control state tobacco control programs, and (2) the relationship between the difference in cigarette consumption and the difference in per capita personal health expenditures between the control states and California between 1980 and 2004. Between 1989 (when it started) and 2004, the California program was associated with $86 billion (2004 US dollars) (95% confidence interval [CI] $28 billion to $151 billion) lower health care expenditures than would have been expected without the program. This reduction grew over time, reaching 7.3% (95% CI 2.7%–12.1%) of total health care expenditures in 2004.
Conclusions
A strong tobacco control program is not only associated with reduced smoking, but also with reductions in health care expenditures.
Stanton Glantz and colleagues find that the California state tobacco control program is associated not only with reduced smoking, but with reductions in health care costs as well.
Editors' Summary
Background
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco causes 1 in 10 adult deaths worldwide and is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. In 2005, tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths, which amounts to one death every 6 seconds. It is estimated that by 2030, annual deaths from tobacco use will be 8 million worldwide. Eighty percent of these deaths will occur in the developing world.
Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke is also a major health concern, as it can cause cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness. An estimated 200,000 workers die annually from exposure to smoke at work, according to the International Labour Organization.
In 2008, the WHO released a report on the global tobacco epidemic, which provided a comprehensive analysis of tobacco use and control efforts. It revealed that not a single country fully implements all key tobacco control measures. The report also stated that governments around the world collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts.
The California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) is a state-funded public policy intervention established in 1989. Its goal is to decrease tobacco-related diseases and deaths in California by reducing tobacco use across the state. The program is focused on adults and social norm change rather than on adolescent tobacco use prevention, on the premise that the “next generation cannot be saved without changing the generations who have already reached adulthood.”
Why Was This Study Done?
The success of large public health programs, especially those that counter the tactics of powerful industries such as the tobacco industry, require funding. The justification of public spending on these initiatives should be evidence driven. While the success of the CTCP in reducing smoking was known, it was not yet clear whether the program had reduced health care costs. The researchers investigated the effect of the CTCP on personal health care expenditures in the state. Their findings can provide useful information for the development of other tobacco control initiatives.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Using the statistical approach of cointegrating regressions, the researchers modeled the relationships between per capita tobacco control expenditures, per capita cigarette consumption, and health care expenditures. They analyzed data from 1980 and 2004 on smoking, health care expenditures, and exposure to a tobacco control educational program in California and compared them to a group of 38 control states. Control states were those without comprehensive tobacco control programs prior to 2000 or cigarette tax increases of $0.50 or more per pack over the study period. This comparison allowed the researchers to assess the effect of the CTCP on total personal health care spending.
The researchers found that US$86 billion (95% CI $28 billion to $151 billion) were saved in personal health care expenditure between 1989, the start of the program, and 2004. This generally grew over time, reaching 7.3% of the total in 2003–2004. The personal health care expenditure savings represented about a 50-fold return on the $1.8 billion spent on the program during the same period (all 2004 US dollars).
The researchers report that 3.6 billion (95% CI 1.5 billion to 5.9 billion) fewer packs of cigarettes were sold between 1989–1990 and 2003–2004. This represents a loss of $9.2 billion (95% CI $3.8 billion to $14.7 billion) to the tobacco industry in pre-tax cigarette sales.
These cost savings occurred despite the substantial diversion of funding and decreased purchasing power experienced by the CTCP, particularly in the mid-1990s. (The program was funded with a constant tax of $0.05 per pack, despite inflation). The researchers estimated that if the funding, and thus purchasing power, had been maintained, total savings in personal health expenditures would have increased to $156 billion with an additional $70 billion in health cost savings. Cigarette consumption would have dropped to an estimated 6.6 billion packs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The CTCP has been successful in reducing smoking in California in comparison to other states, and has reduced personal health care expenditures. These cost reductions were substantial, rapid, and grew over time. The researchers contend that the CTCP's focus on social norm change among adults, not primarily on youth prevention, is responsible for such rapid and large reductions in disease and the associated health care costs. They state that a program focused on primary prevention of smoking among adolescents would take decades to have any impact on tobacco-induced diseases, which rarely manifest among adolescents or even young adults. These researcher's findings support the establishment of strong tobacco control programs in other settings: they not only reduce smoking, prevent disease, and save lives, but also represent an important way to curb rapidly increasing health care expenditures in the short term.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050178.
The California Tobacco Control Program provides information about its social change approach
The WHO MPOWER strategy, detailed in the 2008 Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, outlines the six most effective policies to help curb the epidemic
Resources to help people quit smoking can be obtained through the US Centers for Disease Control and the UK National Health Service
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050178
PMCID: PMC2522256  PMID: 18752344
17.  Economic Appraisal of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Program: A Cost-Utility Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(4):e1000256.
Beate Sander and colleagues assess the cost-effectiveness of the program that provides free seasonal influenza vaccines to the entire population of Ontario, Canada.
Background
In July 2000, the province of Ontario, Canada, initiated a universal influenza immunization program (UIIP) to provide free seasonal influenza vaccines for the entire population. This is the first large-scale program of its kind worldwide. The objective of this study was to conduct an economic appraisal of Ontario's UIIP compared to a targeted influenza immunization program (TIIP).
Methods and Findings
A cost-utility analysis using Ontario health administrative data was performed. The study was informed by a companion ecological study comparing physician visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths between 1997 and 2004 in Ontario and nine other Canadian provinces offering targeted immunization programs. The relative change estimates from pre-2000 to post-2000 as observed in other provinces were applied to pre-UIIP Ontario event rates to calculate the expected number of events had Ontario continued to offer targeted immunization. Main outcome measures were quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), costs in 2006 Canadian dollars, and incremental cost-utility ratios (incremental cost per QALY gained). Program and other costs were drawn from Ontario sources. Utility weights were obtained from the literature. The incremental cost of the program per QALY gained was calculated from the health care payer perspective. Ontario's UIIP costs approximately twice as much as a targeted program but reduces influenza cases by 61% and mortality by 28%, saving an estimated 1,134 QALYs per season overall. Reducing influenza cases decreases health care services cost by 52%. Most cost savings can be attributed to hospitalizations avoided. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is Can$10,797/QALY gained. Results are most sensitive to immunization cost and number of deaths averted.
Conclusions
Universal immunization against seasonal influenza was estimated to be an economically attractive intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Annual outbreaks (epidemics) of influenza—a viral disease of the nose, throat, and airways—make millions of people ill and kill about 500,000 individuals every year. In doing so, they impose a considerable economic burden on society in terms of health care costs and lost productivity. Influenza epidemics occur because small but frequent changes in the viral proteins to which the immune system responds mean that an immune response produced one year by exposure to an influenza virus provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. Annual immunization with a vaccine that contains killed influenza viruses of the major circulating strains can boost this natural immunity and greatly reduce a person's chances of catching influenza. Consequently, many countries run seasonal influenza vaccine programs. These programs usually target people at high risk of complications from influenza and individuals likely to come into close contact with them, and people who provide essential community services. So, for example, in most Canadian provinces, targeted influenza immunization programs (TIIPs) offer free influenza vaccinations to people aged 65 years or older, to people with chronic medical conditions, and to health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some experts argue, however, that universal vaccination might provide populations with better protection from influenza. In 2000, the province of Ontario in Canada decided, therefore, to introduce a universal influenza immunization program (UIIP) to provide free influenza vaccination to everyone older than 6 months, the first large program of this kind in the world. A study published in 2008 showed that, following the introduction of the UIIP, vaccination rates in Ontario increased more than in other Canadian provinces. In addition, deaths from influenza and influenza-related use of health care facilities decreased more in Ontario than in provinces that continued to offer a TIIP. But is universal influenza vaccination good value for money? In this study, the researchers evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the Ontario UIIP by comparing the health outcomes and costs associated with its introduction with the health outcomes and costs associated with a hypothetical continuation of targeted influenza immunization.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data on TIIP and UIIP vaccine uptake, physician visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations for influenza, and deaths from influenza between 1997 and 2004 in Ontario and in nine Canadian states offering TIIPs, and Ontario cost data, in their “cost-utility” analysis. This type of analysis estimates the additional cost required to generate a year of perfect health (a quality-adjusted life-year or QALY) through the introduction of an intervention. QALYs are calculated by multiplying the time spent in a certain health state by a measure of the quality of that health state. The researchers report that the cost of Ontario's UIIP was about twice as much as the cost of a TIIP for the province. However, the introduction of the UIIP reduced the number of influenza cases by nearly two-thirds and reduced deaths from influenza by more than a quarter compared with what would have been expected had the province continued to offer a TIIP, an overall saving of 1,134 QALYs. Furthermore, the reduction in influenza cases halved influenza-related health care costs, mainly because of reductions in hospitalization. Overall, this means that the additional cost to Ontario of saving one QALY through the introduction of the UIIP was Can$10,797, an “incremental cost-effectiveness ratio” of $10,797 per QALY gained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In Canada, an intervention is considered cost-effective from the point of view of a health care purchaser if it costs less than Canadian $50,000 to gain one QALY. These findings indicate, therefore, that for Ontario the introduction of the UIIP is economically attractive. Indeed, the researchers calculate that even if the costs of the UIIP were to double, the additional cost of saving one QALY by introducing universal immunization would remain below $50,000. Other “sensitivity” analyses undertaken by the researchers also indicate that universal immunization is likely to be effective and cost-effective in Ontario if other key assumptions and/or data included in the calculations are varied within reasonable limits. Given these findings, the researchers suggest that a UIIP might be an appealing intervention in other Canadian provinces and in other high-income countries where influenza transmission and health-care costs are broadly similar to those in Ontario.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000256.
A PLoS Medicine Research Article by Kwong and colleagues describes how the introduction of universal influenza immunization in Ontario altered influenza-related health care use and deaths in the province
Wikipedia pages are available on QALYs and on cost-utility analysis (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Bandolier, an independent online journal about evidence-based health-care, provides information about QALYs and their use in cost-utility analysis
The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has a webpage on Measuring effectiveness and cost-effectiveness: the QALY
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000256
PMCID: PMC2850382  PMID: 20386727
18.  Screen or not to screen for peripheral arterial disease: guidance from a decision model 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:89.
Background
Asymptomatic Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is associated with greater risk of acute cardiovascular events. This study aims to determine the cost-effectiveness of one time only PAD screening using Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) test and subsequent anti platelet preventive treatment (low dose aspirin or clopidogrel) in individuals at high risk for acute cardiovascular events compared to no screening and no treatment using decision analytic modelling.
Methods
A probabilistic Markov model was developed to evaluate the life time cost-effectiveness of the strategy of selective PAD screening and consequent preventive treatment compared to no screening and no preventive treatment. The analysis was conducted from the Dutch societal perspective and to address decision uncertainty, probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed. Results were based on average values of 1000 Monte Carlo simulations and using discount rates of 1.5% and 4% for effects and costs respectively. One way sensitivity analyses were performed to identify the two most influential model parameters affecting model outputs. Then, a two way sensitivity analysis was conducted for combinations of values tested for these two most influential parameters.
Results
For the PAD screening strategy, life years and quality adjusted life years gained were 21.79 and 15.66 respectively at a lifetime cost of 26,548 Euros. Compared to no screening and treatment (20.69 life years, 15.58 Quality Adjusted Life Years, 28,052 Euros), these results indicate that PAD screening and treatment is a dominant strategy. The cost effectiveness acceptability curves show 88% probability of PAD screening being cost effective at the Willingness To Pay (WTP) threshold of 40000 Euros. In a scenario analysis using clopidogrel as an alternative anti-platelet drug, PAD screening strategy remained dominant.
Conclusion
This decision analysis suggests that targeted ABI screening and consequent secondary prevention of cardiovascular events using low dose aspirin or clopidogrel in the identified patients is a cost-effective strategy. Implementation of targeted PAD screening and subsequent treatment in primary care practices and in public health programs is likely to improve the societal health and to save health care costs by reducing catastrophic cardiovascular events.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-89
PMCID: PMC3912926  PMID: 24476213
Cost-effectiveness; Peripheral arterial disease; Ankle brachial index; Decision model
19.  Averting Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in India through Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxation: An Economic-Epidemiologic Modeling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001582.
In this modeling study, Sanjay Basu and colleagues estimate the potential health effects of a sugar-sweetened beverage taxation among various sub-populations in India over the period 2014 to 2023.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been proposed in high-income countries to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes. We sought to estimate the potential health effects of such a fiscal strategy in the middle-income country of India, where there is heterogeneity in SSB consumption, patterns of substitution between SSBs and other beverages after tax increases, and vast differences in chronic disease risk within the population.
Methods and Findings
Using consumption and price variations data from a nationally representative survey of 100,855 Indian households, we first calculated how changes in SSB price alter per capita consumption of SSBs and substitution with other beverages. We then incorporated SSB sales trends, body mass index (BMI), and diabetes incidence data stratified by age, sex, income, and urban/rural residence into a validated microsimulation of caloric consumption, glycemic load, overweight/obesity prevalence, and type 2 diabetes incidence among Indian subpopulations facing a 20% SSB excise tax. The 20% SSB tax was anticipated to reduce overweight and obesity prevalence by 3.0% (95% CI 1.6%–5.9%) and type 2 diabetes incidence by 1.6% (95% CI 1.2%–1.9%) among various Indian subpopulations over the period 2014–2023, if SSB consumption continued to increase linearly in accordance with secular trends. However, acceleration in SSB consumption trends consistent with industry marketing models would be expected to increase the impact efficacy of taxation, averting 4.2% of prevalent overweight/obesity (95% CI 2.5–10.0%) and 2.5% (95% CI 1.0–2.8%) of incident type 2 diabetes from 2014–2023. Given current consumption and BMI distributions, our results suggest the largest relative effect would be expected among young rural men, refuting our a priori hypothesis that urban populations would be isolated beneficiaries of SSB taxation. Key limitations of this estimation approach include the assumption that consumer expenditure behavior from prior years, captured in price elasticities, will reflect future behavior among consumers, and potential underreporting of consumption in dietary recall data used to inform our calculations.
Conclusion
Sustained SSB taxation at a high tax rate could mitigate rising obesity and type 2 diabetes in India among both urban and rural subpopulations.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity (excessive body mass) are major threats to global health. Each year NCDs kill 36 million people (including 29 million people in low- and middle-income countries), thereby accounting for nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, and diabetes (a condition characterized by raised blood sugar levels) are responsible for most NCD-related deaths. Worldwide, diabetes alone affects about 360 million people and causes nearly 5 million deaths annually. And the number of people affected by NCDs is likely to rise over the next few decades. It is estimated, for example, that 101.2 million people in India will have diabetes by 2030, nearly double the current number. In Asia and other low- and middle-income countries overweight as well as obesity represent a risk factor for NCDs and the global prevalence of obesity (the proportion of the world's population that is obese) has nearly doubled since 1980. Worldwide, around 0.5 billion people are now classified as obese and about 1.5 billion more overweight. That is, they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more (25–30 for overweight); BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. In India individuals with a BMI of 25 or more (overweight/obese) are at very high risk of diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs, soft drinks sweetened with cane sugar or other caloric sweeteners) is a major risk factor for overweight/obesity and, independent of total energy consumption and BMI, for type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes). In high-income countries, SSB taxation has been proposed as a way to lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, however it is unknown if this approach will work in low- and middle-income countries. Here, in an economic-epidemiologic modeling study, researchers estimate the potential health effects of SSB taxation in India, a middle-income country in which total SSB consumption is rapidly increasing, but where SSB consumption and chronic disease risk vary greatly within the population and where people are likely to turn to other sugar-rich beverages (for example, fresh fruit juices) if SSBs are taxed.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used survey data relating SSB consumption to price variations to calculate how changes in the price of SSBs affect the demand for SSBs (own-price elasticity) and for other beverages (cross-price elasticity) in India. They combined these elasticities and data on SSB sales trends, BMIs, and diabetes incidence (the frequency of new diabetes cases) into a mathematical microsimulation model to estimate the effect of a 20% tax on SSBs on caloric (energy) consumption, glycemic load (an estimate of how much a food or drink raises blood sugar levels after consumption; low glycemic load diets lower diabetes risk), the prevalence of overweight/obesity, and the incidence of diabetes among Indian subpopulations. According to the model, if SSB sales continue to increase at the current rate, compared to no tax, a 20% SSB tax would reduce overweight/obesity across India by 3.0% and the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 1.6% over the period 2014–2023. In absolute figures, a 20% SSB tax would avert 11.2 million cases of overweight/obesity and 400,000 cases of type 2 diabetes between 2014 and 2023. Notably, if SSB sales increase more steeply as predicted by drinks industry marketing models, the tax would avert 15.8 million cases of overweight/obesity and 600,000 cases of diabetes. Finally, the model predicted that the largest relative effect of an SSB tax would be among young men in rural areas.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by the assumptions incorporated in the model and by the data fed into it. In particular, the accuracy of the estimates of the health effects of a 20% tax on SSBs is limited by the assumption that future consumer behavior will reflect historic behavior and by potential underreporting of SSB consumption in surveys. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that a sustained high rate of tax on SSBs could mitigate the rising prevalence of obesity and the rising incidence of diabetes in India in both urban and rural populations by affecting both caloric intake and glycemic load. Thus, SSB taxation might be a way to control obesity and diabetes in India and other low- and middle-income countries where, to date, large-scale interventions designed to address these threats to global health have had no sustained effects.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001582.
The World Health Organization provides information about non-communicable diseases, obesity, and diabetes around the world (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on non-communicable diseases around the world and on overweight and obesity and diabetes (including some information in Spanish)
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals, and the general public, including detailed information on weight control (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and about obesity; it includes personal stories about diabetes and about obesity
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and diabetes prevention and about obesity (in English and Spanish)
A 2012 Policy brief from the Yale Rudd Center for food policy and obesity provides information about SSB taxes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001582
PMCID: PMC3883641  PMID: 24409102
20.  Cost-Effectiveness of the Diabetes Care Protocol, a Multifaceted Computerized Decision Support Diabetes Management Intervention That Reduces Cardiovascular Risk 
Diabetes Care  2009;33(2):258-263.
OBJECTIVE
The Diabetes Care Protocol (DCP), a multifaceted computerized decision support diabetes management intervention, reduces cardiovascular risk of type 2 diabetic patients. We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis of DCP from a Dutch health care perspective.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
A cluster randomized trial provided data of DCP versus usual care. The 1-year follow-up patient data were extrapolated using a modified Dutch microsimulation diabetes model, computing individual lifetime health-related costs, and health effects. Incremental costs and effectiveness (quality-adjusted life-years [QALYs]) were estimated using multivariate generalized estimating equations to correct for practice-level clustering and confounding. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were created. Stroke costs were calculated separately. Subgroup analyses examined patients with and without cardiovascular disease (CVD+ or CVD− patients, respectively).
RESULTS
Excluding stroke, DCP patients lived longer (0.14 life-years, P = NS), experienced more QALYs (0.037, P = NS), and incurred higher total costs (€1,415, P = NS), resulting in an ICER of €38,243 per QALY gained. The likelihood of cost-effectiveness given a willingness-to-pay threshold of €20,000 per QALY gained is 30%. DCP had a more favorable effect on CVD+ patients (ICER = €14,814) than for CVD− patients (ICER = €121,285). Coronary heart disease costs were reduced (€−587, P < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS
DCP reduces cardiovascular risk, resulting in only a slight improvement in QALYs, lower CVD costs, but higher total costs, with a high cost-effectiveness ratio. Cost-effective care can be achieved by focusing on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetic patients with a history of CVD.
doi:10.2337/dc09-1232
PMCID: PMC2809259  PMID: 19933991
21.  Cost-effectiveness evaluation of escitalopram in major depressive disorder in Italy 
Background
Depression has a lifetime prevalence of 10%–25% among women and 5%–12% among men. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most used and the most cost-effective treatment for long-term major depressive disorder. Since the introduction of generic SSRIs, the costs of branded drugs have been questioned. The objective of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness (€ per quality-adjusted life year [QALY]) of escitalopram (which is still covered by a patent) compared with paroxetine, sertraline, and citalopram, the patents for which have expired.
Methods
A decision analytic model was adapted from the Swedish Dental and Pharmaceutical benefits agency model to reflect current clinical practice in the treatment of depression in Italy in collaboration with an expert panel of Italian psychiatrists and health economists. The population comprised patients with a first diagnosis of major depressive disorder and receiving for the first time one of the following SSRIs: escitalopram, sertraline, paroxetine, and citalopram. The time frame used was 12 months. Efficacy and utility data for the original model were validated by our expert panel. Local data were considered for resource utilization and for treatment costs based on the Lombardy region health service perspective. Several scenario simulations, oneway sensitivity analyses, and Monte Carlo simulations were performed to test the robustness of the model.
Results
The base case scenario showed that escitalopram had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of €4395 and €1080 per QALY compared with sertraline and paroxetine, respectively. Escitalopram was dominant over citalopram, which was confirmed by most one-way sensitivity analyses. The escitalopram strategy gained 0.011 QALYs more than citalopram, 0.008 more than paroxetine, and around 0.007 more than sertraline. Monte Carlo simulations indicated that ICER values for escitalopram were centered around €1100 and €4400 per QALY compared with paroxetine and sertraline, respectively. Although there is no official cost-effectiveness threshold in Italy, the value of €25,000 per QALY could be acceptable. All ICER values retrieved in all analyses were lower than this threshold.
Conclusion
The findings from this cost-effectiveness analysis indicate that escitalopram could be accepted as a cost-effective strategy for the Lombardy region health service compared with the other SSRIs studied. The present assessment is based on ICER values resulting from this analysis, which are lower than the thresholds proposed by health care authorities in other European Union countries. These benefits are driven by the effectiveness of escitalopram, which result in an improved health-related quality of life, a higher probability of sustained remission, and better utilization of health care resources. The study results are robust and in line with other pharmacoeconomic analyses comparing escitalopram with other SSRIs.
doi:10.2147/CEOR.S39492
PMCID: PMC3570079  PMID: 23413176
CEA; depression; escitalopram; Lombardy; ICER; SSRI
22.  Cost-effectiveness of counseling and pedometer use to increase physical activity in the Netherlands: a modeling study 
Background
Counseling in combination with pedometer use has proven to be effective in increasing physical activity and improving health outcomes. We investigated the cost-effectiveness of this intervention targeted at one million insufficiently active adults who visit their general practitioner in the Netherlands.
Methods
We used the RIVM chronic disease model to estimate the long-term effects of increased physical activity on the future health care costs and quality adjusted life years (QALY) gained, from a health care perspective.
Results
The intervention resulted in almost 6000 people shifting to more favorable physical-activity levels, and in 5100 life years and 6100 QALYs gained, at an additional total cost of EUR 67.6 million. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was EUR 13,200 per life year gained and EUR 11,100 per QALY gained. The intervention has a probability of 0.66 to be cost-effective if a QALY gained is valued at the Dutch informal threshold for cost-effectiveness of preventive intervention of EUR 20,000. A sensitivity analysis showed substantial uncertainty of ICER values.
Conclusion
Counseling in combination with pedometer use aiming to increase physical activity may be a cost-effective intervention. However, the intervention only yields relatively small health benefits in the Netherlands.
doi:10.1186/1478-7547-10-13
PMCID: PMC3495195  PMID: 23006466
Economic evaluation; Prevention; Modeling; Counseling; Pedometer use; Physical activity; Primary care
23.  Epilepsy Care in Ontario: An Economic Analysis of Increasing Access to Epilepsy Surgery 
Background
In August 2011 a proposed epilepsy care model was presented to the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) by an Expert Panel on a Provincial Strategy for Epilepsy Care in Ontario. The Expert Panel recommended leveraging existing infrastructure in the province to provide enhanced capacity for epilepsy care. The point of entry for epilepsy care and the diagnostic evaluation for surgery candidacy and the epilepsy surgery would occur at regional and district epilepsy centres in London, Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa and at new centres recommended for northern and eastern Ontario.
This economic analysis report was requested by OHTAC to provide information about the estimated budgetary impact on the Ontario health care system of increasing access to epilepsy surgery and to examine the cost-effectiveness of epilepsy surgery in both children and adults.
Methods
A prevalence-based “top-down” health care system budgetary impact model from the perspective of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was developed to estimate the potential costs associated with expanding health care services to increase access to epilepsy care in general and epilepsy surgery in particular. A 5-year period (i.e., 2012–2016) was used to project annual costs associated with incremental epilepsy care services. Ontario Health Survey estimates of epilepsy prevalence, published epilepsy incidence data, and Canadian Census results for Ontario were used to approximate the number of individuals with epilepsy in the province. Applying these population estimates to data obtained from a recent field evaluation study that examined patterns of care and costs associated with epilepsy surgery in children, a health care system budget impact was calculated and the total costs and incremental costs associated with increasing access to surgery was estimated.
In order to examine the cost-effectiveness of epilepsy surgery in children, a decision analysis compared epilepsy surgery to continued medical management in children with medically intractable epilepsy. Data from the field evaluation were combined with various published data to estimate the costs and outcomes for children with drug-refractory epilepsy over a 20-year period. Outcomes were defined as the number of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) accumulated over 20 years following epilepsy surgery.
Results
There are about 20,981 individuals with medically intractable epilepsy in Ontario. Of these, 9,619 (1,441 children and 8,178 adults) could potentially be further assessed at regional epilepsy centres for suitability for epilepsy surgery, following initial evaluation at a district epilepsy care centre. The health care system impact analysis related to increasing access to epilepsy surgery in the Ontario through the addition of epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) beds with video electroencephalography (vEEG) monitoring (total capacity of 15 pediatric EMU beds and 35 adult EMU beds distributed across the province) and the associated clinical resources is estimated to require an incremental $18.1 million (Cdn) annually over the next 5 years from 2012 to 2016. This would allow for about 675 children and 1050 adults to be evaluated each year for suitability for epilepsy surgery representing a 150% increase in pediatric epilepsy surgery evaluation and a 170% increase in adult epilepsy surgery evaluation.
Epilepsy surgery was found to be cost-effective compared to continued medical management in children with drug-refractory epilepsy with the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $25,020 (Cdn) to $69,451 (Cdn) per QALY for 2 of the scenarios examined. In the case of choosing epilepsy surgery versus continued medical management in children known to be suitable for surgery, the epilepsy surgery was found to be less costly and provided greater clinical benefit, that is, it was the dominant strategy.
Conclusion
Epilepsy surgery for medically intractable epilepsy in suitable candidates has consistently been found to provide favourable clinical outcomes and has been demonstrated to be cost-effective in both adult and child patient populations. The first step to increasing access to epilepsy surgery is to provide access to evidence-based care for all patients with epilepsy, both adults and children, through the provision of resources to expand EMU bed capacity and associated clinical personnel across the province of Ontario.
Plain Language Summary
Epilepsy, characterized by recurrent, unpredictable, and spontaneous seizures, affects approximately 70,000 people in Ontario. About 30% continue to suffer from seizures despite using 2 or more anti-seizure medications. For these individuals epilepsy surgery is a treatment option to stop the seizures or at least reduce their frequency. Awareness of this treatment option is not widespread and people are not commonly referred to those hospitals in Ontario where this surgery is available. A proposal to increase access to epilepsy care and surgery has been made by an expert committee that provided a report to the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC). In order to address the lack of access of patients with medically intractable epilepsy to the possibility of curative surgical treatment, it is necessary to design a system that provides equal availability of evidence-based treatment for all epilepsy patients in Ontario, both adults and children. To this end, the establishment of district epilepsy care centres and the further development of the existing regional epilepsy care centres in the province have been proposed. This report outlines the estimated additional funds that will be required to implement the proposal. It also examines the cost-effectiveness of referral to these centres and epilepsy surgery.
For the 21,000 people in the province with drug-refractory epilepsy, referral to an epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) located at one of the epilepsy care centres is the first step to determining if epilepsy surgery is an option for them. The expert committee proposal suggests that the number of EMU beds be increased from the current 19 to 50 to allow for the assessment of those individuals with drug-refractory epilepsy. The health care system budget impact model presented in this report estimates that it would cost approximately $18 million (Cdn) each year over the next 5 years to increase the number of EMU beds and expand associated epilepsy care centres to permit the systematic evidence-based care of all Ontarians with epilepsy and evaluate more people for surgery candidacy. This amount would provide appropriate care for patients with epilepsy and ensure that about 675 children and 1050 adults could be assessed each year for suitability for epilepsy surgery. Surgery could then be made available to just over 300 people per year.
Epilepsy surgery over the long term is a less expensive treatment alternative for adults and children with medically refractory epilepsy compared with continued drug treatment. In addition, drug treatment does not always work for some patients; nor does it necessarily provide improved quality of life.
This report includes a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing referral for assessment for epilepsy surgery with continuing medical management in children with drug-refractory epilepsy. In all the cases examined epilepsy surgery provides good value for money over a 20-year period. Similar studies have found that the benefits from epilepsy surgery outweigh those of continuing medical management in adult patients with medically refractory epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC3428718  PMID: 23074428
24.  Potential benefits of minimum unit pricing for alcohol versus a ban on below cost selling in England 2014: modelling study 
Objective To evaluate the potential impact of two alcohol control policies under consideration in England: banning below cost selling of alcohol and minimum unit pricing.
Design Modelling study using the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model version 2.5.
Setting England 2014-15.
Population Adults and young people aged 16 or more, including subgroups of moderate, hazardous, and harmful drinkers.
Interventions Policy to ban below cost selling, which means that the selling price to consumers could not be lower than tax payable on the product, compared with policies of minimum unit pricing at £0.40 (€0.57; $0.75), 45p, and 50p per unit (7.9 g/10 mL) of pure alcohol.
Main outcome measures Changes in mean consumption in terms of units of alcohol, drinkers’ expenditure, and reductions in deaths, illnesses, admissions to hospital, and quality adjusted life years.
Results The proportion of the market affected is a key driver of impact, with just 0.7% of all units estimated to be sold below the duty plus value added tax threshold implied by a ban on below cost selling, compared with 23.2% of units for a 45p minimum unit price. Below cost selling is estimated to reduce harmful drinkers’ mean annual consumption by just 0.08%, around 3 units per year, compared with 3.7% or 137 units per year for a 45p minimum unit price (an approximately 45 times greater effect). The ban on below cost selling has a small effect on population health—saving an estimated 14 deaths and 500 admissions to hospital per annum. In contrast, a 45p minimum unit price is estimated to save 624 deaths and 23 700 hospital admissions. Most of the harm reductions (for example, 89% of estimated deaths saved per annum) are estimated to occur in the 5.3% of people who are harmful drinkers.
Conclusions The ban on below cost selling, implemented in the England in May 2014, is estimated to have small effects on consumption and health harm. The previously announced policy of a minimum unit price, if set at expected levels between 40p and 50p per unit, is estimated to have an approximately 40-50 times greater effect.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g5452
PMCID: PMC4180296  PMID: 25270743
25.  A health economic evaluation of screening and treatment in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis 
Scoliosis  2014;9(1):21.
Summary of background data
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis can progress and affect the health related quality of life of the patients. Research shows that screening is effective in early detection, which allows for bracing and reduced surgical rates, and may save costs, but is still controversial from a health economic perspective.
Study design
Model based cost minimisation analysis using hospital’s costs, administrative data, and market prices to estimate costs in screening, bracing and surgical treatment. Uncertainty was characterised by deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses. Time horizon was 6 years from first screening at 11 years of age.
Objective
To compare estimated costs in screening and non-screening scenarios (reduced treatment rates of 90%, 80%, 70% of screening, and non-screening Norway 2012).
Methods
Data was based on screening and treatment costs in primary health care and in hospital care settings. Participants were 4000, 12-year old children screened in Norway, 115190 children screened in Hong Kong and 112 children treated for scoliosis in Norway in 2012. We assumed equivalent outcome of health related quality of life, and compared only relative costs in screening and non-screening settings. Incremental cost was defined as positive when a non-screening scenario was more expensive relative to screening.
Results
Screening per child was € 8.4 (95% CrI 6.6 to10.6), € 10350 (8690 to 12180) per patient braced, and € 45880 (39040 to 55400) per child operated. Incremental cost per child in non-screening scenario of 90% treatment rate was € 13.3 (1 to 27), increasing from € 1.3 (−8 to 11) to € 27.6 (14 to 44) as surgical rates relative to bracing increased from 40% to 80%. For the 80% treatment rate non-screening scenario, incremental cost was € 5.5 (−6 to 18) when screening all, and € 11.3 (2 to 22) when screening girls only. For the non-screening Norwegian scenario, incremental cost per child was € -0.1(−14 to 16). Bracing and surgery were the main cost drivers and contributed most to uncertainty.
Conclusions
With the assumptions applied in the present study, screening is cost saving when performed in girls only, and when it leads to reduced treatment rates. Cost of surgery was dominating in non-screening whilst cost of bracing was dominating in screening. The economic gain of screening increases when it leads to higher rates of bracing and reduced surgical rates.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13013-014-0021-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13013-014-0021-8
PMCID: PMC4298059  PMID: 25601889
Cost minimisation analysis; Scoliosis screening; Scoliosis treatment; Health related quality of life

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