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1.  Cost analysis of fixed-dose combination of dutasteride and tamsulosin compared with concomitant dutasteride and tamsulosin monotherapy in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia in Canada 
We estimate the lifetime cost of treatment for moderate/severe symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in a cohort of Canadian men aged 50 to 59, and we evaluate the costs of 2 daily bioequivalent treatment options: fixed-dose combination (FDC) of dutasteride (0.5 mg) and tamsulosin (0.4 mg), or concomitant administration of dutasteride (0.5 mg) and tamsulosin (0.4 mg) monotherapies.
The expected lifetime costs were estimated by modelling the incidence of acute urinary retention (AUR), BPH-related surgery and clinical progression over a patient’s lifetime (up to 25 years). A model was developed to simulate clinical events over time, based on a discrete Markov process with 6 mutually exclusive health states and annual cycle length.
The estimated lifetime budget cost for the cohort of 374 110 men aged 50 to 59 in Canada is between $6.35 billion and $7.60 billion, equivalent to between $16 979 and $20 315 per patient with moderate/severe symptoms associated with BPH. Costs are lower for FDC treatment, with the net difference in lifetime budget impact between the 2 treatment regimens at $1.25 billion. In this analysis, the true costs of BPH in Canada are underestimated for 2 main reasons: (1) to make the analysis tractable, it is restricted to a cohort aged 50 to 59, whereas BPH can affect all men; and (2) a closed cohort approach does not include the costs of new (incident) cases.
Canadian clinical guidelines recommend the use of the combination of tamsulosin and dutasteride for men with moderate/severe symptoms associated with BPH and enlarged prostate volume. This analysis, using a representational patient group, suggests that the FDC is a more cost-effective treatment option for BPH.
PMCID: PMC3896551  PMID: 24454593
2.  Cost-effectiveness of dutasteride-tamsulosin combination therapy for the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia: A Canadian model based on the CombAT trial 
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is common in men 50 years old and older. The main treatment options are alpha-blockers (such as tamsulosin), which reduce symptoms, and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (such as dutasteride), which reduce symptoms and slow disease progression. Clinical studies have demonstrated that dutasteride-tamsulosin combination therapy is more effective than either monotherapy to treat symptomatic BPH. We studied the cost-effectiveness in Canada of the dutasteride (0.5 mg/day) and tamsulosin (0.4 mg/day) combination compared with tamsulosin or dutasteride monotherapy.
A Markov model was developed which follows a cohort of male BPH patients ≥50 with moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The model estimates costs to the Canadian health care system and outcomes (in terms of quality adjusted life years [QALYs]) at 10 years and over a patient’s lifetime. The dutasteride-tamsulosin combination was compared to each of tamsulosin monotherapy and dutasteride monotherapy.
Compared with tamsulosin, the combination was more costly and produced better patient outcomes. Over a lifetime, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was CAN$25 437 per QALY gained. At a willingness to pay CAN$50 000 per QALY, the probability of combination therapy being cost-effective was 99.6%. Compared with dutasteride, the combination therapy was the dominant option from year 2, offering improved patient outcomes at lower cost. The probability that combination therapy is more cost-effective than dutasteride was 99.8%.
Combination therapy offers important clinical benefits for patients with symptomatic BPH, and there is a high probability that it is cost-effective in the Canadian health care system relative to either monotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3699085  PMID: 23826050
3.  The aging Canadian population and hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction: projection to 2020 
The risk of experiencing an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) increases with age and Canada's population is aging. The objective of this analysis was to examine trends in the AMI hospitalization rate in Canada between 2002 and 2009 and to estimate the potential increase in the number of AMI hospitalizations over the next decade.
Aggregated data on annual AMI hospitalizations were obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information for all provinces and territories, except Quebec, for 2002/03 and 2009/10. Using these data in a Poisson regression model to control for age, gender and year, the rate of AMI hospitalizations was extrapolated between 2010 and 2020. The extrapolated rate and Statistics Canada population projections were used to estimate the number of AMI hospitalizations in 2020.
The rates of AMI hospitalizations by gender and age group showed a decrease between 2002 and 2009 in patients aged ≥ 65 years and relatively stable rates in those aged < 64 years in both males and females. However, the total number of AMI hospitalizations in Canada (excluding Quebec) is projected to increase by 4667 from 51847 in 2009 to 56514 in 2020, a 9.0% increase. Inflating this number to account for the unavailable Quebec data results in an increase of approximately 6200 for the whole of Canada. This would amount to an additional cost of between $46 and $54 million and sensitivity analyses indicate that it could be between $36 and $65 million.
Despite projected decreasing or stable rates of AMI hospitalization, the number of hospitalizations is expected to increase substantially as a result of the aging of the Canadian population. The cost of these hospitalizations will be substantial. An increase of this extent in the number of AMI hospitalizations and the ensuing costs would significantly impact the already over-stretched Canadian healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3378463  PMID: 22471314
4.  A tutorial on pilot studies: the what, why and how 
Pilot studies for phase III trials - which are comparative randomized trials designed to provide preliminary evidence on the clinical efficacy of a drug or intervention - are routinely performed in many clinical areas. Also commonly know as "feasibility" or "vanguard" studies, they are designed to assess the safety of treatment or interventions; to assess recruitment potential; to assess the feasibility of international collaboration or coordination for multicentre trials; to increase clinical experience with the study medication or intervention for the phase III trials. They are the best way to assess feasibility of a large, expensive full-scale study, and in fact are an almost essential pre-requisite. Conducting a pilot prior to the main study can enhance the likelihood of success of the main study and potentially help to avoid doomed main studies. The objective of this paper is to provide a detailed examination of the key aspects of pilot studies for phase III trials including: 1) the general reasons for conducting a pilot study; 2) the relationships between pilot studies, proof-of-concept studies, and adaptive designs; 3) the challenges of and misconceptions about pilot studies; 4) the criteria for evaluating the success of a pilot study; 5) frequently asked questions about pilot studies; 7) some ethical aspects related to pilot studies; and 8) some suggestions on how to report the results of pilot investigations using the CONSORT format.
PMCID: PMC2824145  PMID: 20053272
5.  Brain type carnosinase in dementia: a pilot study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:38.
The pathological processes underlying dementia are poorly understood and so are the markers which identify them. Carnosinase is a dipeptidase found almost exclusively in brain and serum. Carnosinase and its substrate carnosine have been linked to neuropathophysiological processes.
Carnosinase activity was measured by a flourometric method in 37 patients attending a Geriatric Outpatient Clinic. There were 17 patients without dementia, 13 had Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 7 had mixed dementia (MD).
The range of serum carnosinase activity for patients without dementia was 14.5 – 78.5 μmol/ml/h. There was no difference in carnosinase activity between patients without dementia (40.3 ± 15.2 μmol/ml/h) and patients with AD (44.4 ± 12.4 μmol/ml/h) or MD (26.6 ± 15 μmol/ml/h). However, levels in the MD group were significantly lower than the AD group (p = 0.01). This difference remained significant after adjusting for gender, MMSE score, exercise, but not age, one at a time and all combined. The effect of other medical conditions did not remove the significance between the AD and MD groups. The MD group, but not the AD group, demonstrated a significant trend with carnosinase activity decreasing with duration of disease (from first recorded date of diagnosis to date of blood collection) (r = -0.76, p = 0.049). There was no association with carnosinase activity and MMSE score in the AD or MD group. Both AD and MD patients on any dementia medication (donepezil, galantamine, memantine) had higher carnosinase activity compared to those not taking a dementia medication. Carnosinase activity was higher in patients who regularly exercised (n = 20) compared to those who did not exercise regularly (n = 17)(p = 0.006).
This exploratory study has shown altered activities of the enzyme carnosinase in patients with dementia.
PMCID: PMC2200655  PMID: 17983474
6.  Comparison of Bayesian and frequentist approaches in modelling risk of preterm birth near the Sydney Tar Ponds, Nova Scotia, Canada 
This study compares the Bayesian and frequentist (non-Bayesian) approaches in the modelling of the association between the risk of preterm birth and maternal proximity to hazardous waste and pollution from the Sydney Tar Pond site in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The data includes 1604 observed cases of preterm birth out of a total population of 17559 at risk of preterm birth from 144 enumeration districts in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Other covariates include the distance from the Tar Pond; the rate of unemployment to population; the proportion of persons who are separated, divorced or widowed; the proportion of persons who have no high school diploma; the proportion of persons living alone; the proportion of single parent families and average income. Bayesian hierarchical Poisson regression, quasi-likelihood Poisson regression and weighted linear regression models were fitted to the data.
The results of the analyses were compared together with their limitations.
The results of the weighted linear regression and the quasi-likelihood Poisson regression agrees with the result from the Bayesian hierarchical modelling which incorporates the spatial effects.
PMCID: PMC2080634  PMID: 17845717
7.  Screening for hypoglycemia at the bedside in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with the Abbott PCx glucose meter 
BMC Pediatrics  2006;6:28.
Point of care (POC) glucose meters are routinely used as a screening tool for hypoglycemia in a neonatal setting. Glucose meters however, lack the same accuracy as laboratory instruments for glucose measurement. In this study we investigated potential reasons for this inaccuracy and established a cut off value for confirmatory testing.
In this prospective study, all patients in the neonatal intensive care unit who had a plasma glucose test ordered were eligible to participate. Demographic information, sample collection information (nine variables) and a recent hematocrit value were recorded for each sample. Glucose measurements were taken at the bedside on the glucose meter (RN PCx) as well as in the laboratory on both the glucose meter (LAB PCx) and the laboratory analyzer (PG). Data were analyzed by simple and mixed-effects regression analysis and by analysis of a receiver operator characteristics (ROC) curve.
There were 475 samples analyzed from 132 patients. RN PCx values were higher than PG values (mean = 4.9%), while LAB PCx results were lower (mean = -5.2%) than PG values. Only 31% of the difference between RN PCx – PG and 46% of the difference for LAB PCx – PG could be accounted for by the variables tested. The largest proportion of variance between PCx and PG measurements was explained by hematocrit (about 30%) with a greater effect seen at glucose concentrations ≤4.0 mmol/L (≤72 mg/dL)(48% and 40% for RN PCx and LAB PCx, respectively). The ROC analysis showed that for detection of all cases of hypoglycemia (PG < 2.6 mmol/L)(PG < 47 mg/dL) the PCx screening cut off value would need to be set at 3.8 mmol/L (68 mg/dL) requiring 20% of all samples to have confirmatory analysis by the laboratory method.
The large difference between glucose results obtained by PCx glucose meter compared to the laboratory analyzer can be explained in part by hematocrit and low glucose concentration. These results emphasize that the glucose meter is useful only as a screening device for neonatal hypoglycemia and that a screening cut off value must be established.
PMCID: PMC1660538  PMID: 17083737

Results 1-7 (7)