To calculate the cost of an unintended pregnancy in 2011 and use this cost in a cost-effectiveness model comparing ulipristal acetate (UPA) with levonorgestrel (LNG) for emergency hormonal contraception (EHC).
Retrospective analysis of published data sources and published cost-effectiveness model.
Women presenting in primary care in England for EHC within 24 or 72 h of unprotected sexual intercourse (UPSI).
EHC of either LNG (1.5 mg) or UPA (30 mg).
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The primary outcome measure is the number and direct and indirect costs of an unintended pregnancy. The secondary outcome measure is the consequence of unintended pregnancy: miscarriage, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or live birth.
From the comparative clinical studies of EHC we observe that if 125 women receive either LNG or UPA within 72 h of UPSI, there will be one less pregnancy due to method failure in the UPA group than in the LNG group. We calculate the cost of an unintended pregnancy to be £1663 in direct healthcare costs rising to £2922 with the inclusion of social costs. Using these costs in the comparative cost-effectiveness model shows that it costs £194 less in direct health costs alone to prevent one more pregnancy with UPA than with LNG. The inclusion of social costs of pregnancy increases this cost-saving potential to £1453 for each extra pregnancy avoided with UPA compared with LNG.
Clinical trials have demonstrated the superior efficacy of UPA compared with LNG as a method of EHC. Given that it costs less overall in health and social costs of pregnancy while preventing more pregnancies, UPA is said to be the dominant treatment, and primary care services should shift to offering UPA as the preferred oral option to women presenting within 24 and 72 h of UPSI.