Cost effectiveness of implementing ESC guidelines for treatment of iron deficiency in heart failure in the Nordic countries

Hofmarcher T, Cabrales Alin D & Linde C

Guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) recommend that ferritin and transferrin saturation should be tested in chronic heart failure (HF) and state that iron treatment with ferric carboxymaltose should be considered in HF patients with iron deficiency to alleviate symptoms and improve exercise tolerance and quality of life. This study evaluates the cost effectiveness of the implementation of this recommendation in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden).

We performed a cost-utility analysis comparing ferric carboxymaltose treatment with placebo over a one-year time period in each country. Data on healthcare resource use and health outcomes were taken from the CONFIRM-HF study and combined with country-specific unit costs. Differences in per-patient costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were calculated.

Our results indicate that QALYs were higher (increase of 0.050 QALYs per patient) in the iron-treated group compared with placebo. Per-patient costs were lower in all countries (with reductions ranging from e36 to e484). Fewer hospitalizations were one key driver of these results. Another important driver was how well the new routines for iron treatment can be integrated into the current healthcare management of HF. A sensitivity analysis confirmed the results to be robust.

In conclusion, iron deficiency therapy in HF with ferric carboxymaltose compared with placebo is estimated to both improve health-related quality of life and save healthcare costs in all Nordic countries. A well-organized healthcare management of HF patients can enable the implementation of ESC-recommended treatment of iron deficiency without need for additional resources.

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Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal, 2018; 52(5): 348-355
DOI: 10.1080/14017431.2018.1546894