Alitretinoin for the treatment of severe chronic hand eczema

M. Paulden, M. Rodgers, S. Griffin, R. Slack, S. Duffy, J. R. Ingram, N. Woolacott, M. Sculpher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a summary of the evidence review group (ERG) report into the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of alitretinoin for the treatment of adults with severe chronic hand eczema refractory to topical steroid treatment in accordance with the licensed indication, based upon the evidence submission from Basilea Pharmaceuticals Ltd to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as part of the single technology appraisal process. The clinical evidence came from a single placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial of daily treatment with alitretinoin for 12-24 weeks, with follow-up for a further 24 weeks, in patients with severe chronic hand eczema (CHE) unresponsive to topical steroids. A statistically significantly greater proportion of patients using alitretinoin achieved the primary end point of clear or almost clear hands by week 24 than did those with placebo. Dose-dependent headache was the most commonly reported adverse event in patients treated with alitretinoin. Serious adverse events were rare, but alitretinoin was associated with increases in both total cholesterol and triglycerides, which has implications for risks of future cardiovascular events. The manufacturer submitted a de novo decision analytic model to estimate, over a time horizon of 3 years, the cost-effectiveness of alitretinoin versus the other relevant comparators identified by NICE. In response to the points of clarification put to it by the ERG regarding the initial submission, the manufacturer provided additional evidence and a revised decision analytic model with a 'placebo' arm. In the manufacturer's original submission to NICE, the base-case incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) reported for alitretinoin were (sin)8614 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) versus ciclosporin, -(sin)469 per QALY versus psoralen + UVA (with alitretinoin dominant) and (sin)10,612 per QALY versus azathioprine. These ICERs decreased as the time horizon was extended in sensitivity analyses. In patients with hyperkeratotic CHE and in women of child-bearing potential, the ICER remained below (sin)20,000. When the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) values used in the model were replaced with those derived from an alternative study, these ICERs increased significantly (to (sin)22,312 per QALY for alitretinoin versus azathioprine). In the revised model, alitretinoin was reported to have an ICER of (sin)12,931 per QALY gained versus supportive care (placebo). However, the model underestimates the costs of treatment associated with alitretinoin. The manufacturer assumed that patients receiving alitretinoin visited the dermatologist every 4 weeks and ceased treatment as soon as they responded to it. If, in practice, patients would receive treatment for longer than this, then the manufacturer's model will have significantly underestimated the costs to the NHS. Additional analyses undertaken by the ERG produced ICERs close to (sin)30,000 per QALY gained for alitretinoin versus supportive care. This was largely due to uncertainty surrounding the impact of alitretinoin on HRQoL. The placebo-controlled trials conducted to date have established that alitretinoin can be efficacious for the treatment of severe CHE refractory to topical steroids, but longer term follow-up of trials or the implementation of registries is required to better establish the longer term efficacy or safety of alitretinoin. NICE recommended the use of alitretinoin for patients with severe CHE and a Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) score of at least 15.

Treatent was recommended to be stopped as soon as an adequate response was observed, or if CHE remained severe at 12 weeks, or if response was inadequate at 24 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalHealth technology assessment
Publication statusPublished - May 2010



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