Omalizumab (trade name Xolair) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of moderate-to-severe allergic asthma. Given the high acquisition cost of omalizumab, its role and cost-effectiveness in disease management require definition.
We sought to identify the clinical and economic circumstances under which omalizumab might or might not be a cost-effective option by using a mathematic model.
We merged published data on clinical and economic outcomes (including acute event incidence, frequency/severity of hospitalizations, and health-related quality of life) to project 10-year costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and cost-effectiveness of treatment with omalizumab in addition to inhaled corticosteroids. Sensitivity analyses were conducted by using input data ranges from a variety of sources (published clinical trials and observational databases).
For patients with baseline acute event rates, omalizumab conferred an additional 1.7 quality-adjusted months at an incremental cost of $131,000 over a 10-year planning horizon, implying a cost-effectiveness ratio of $821,000 per QALY gained. For patients with 5 times the baseline acute event rate, the cost-effectiveness ratio was $491,000 per QALY gained. The projected cost-effectiveness ratio could fall within a range of other programs that are widely considered to be cost-effective if the cost of omalizumab decreases to less than $200.
Omalizumab is not cost-effective for most patients with severe asthma. The projected cost-effectiveness ratios could fall within a favorable range if the cost of omalizumab decreases significantly.
Based on the high cost of omalizumab, it is especially important that clinicians explore alternative medications for asthma before initiating omalizumab.