Cost-effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine versus placebo for hand osteoarthritis: economic evaluation of the HERO trial

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Background: An economic evaluation alongside the Hydroxychloroquine Effectiveness in Reducing symptoms of hand Osteoarthritis (HERO) trial was undertaken to assess the cost-effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine compared with placebo for symptomatic treatment of hand osteoarthritis for patients with at least moderate hand pain and inadequate response to current therapies.

Methods: A trial-based cost–utility analysis was undertaken from the perspective of the UK National Health Service and Personal Social Services over a 12-month time horizon, using evidence from 248 participants included in the HERO trial, conducted in England. Patient-level data were collected prospectively over a 12-month period, using participant-completed questionnaires and investigator forms, to collect healthcare utilisation, costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) using the EQ-5D-5L. The base-case analysis was conducted on an intention-to-treat basis and used multiple imputation methods to deal with missing data. Results were presented in terms of incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (incremental cost per QALY) and net health benefit, with uncertainty surrounding the findings explored using cost-effectiveness acceptability curves.

Results: The base-case analysis estimated slightly lower costs on average (−£11.80; 95% confidence interval (CI) −£15.60 to −£8.00) and marginally fewer QALYs (−0.0052; 95% CI −0.0057 to −0.0047) for participants in the hydroxychloroquine group versus placebo group at 12 months. The resulting incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £2,267 per QALY lost indicated that although costs were saved, health-related quality of life was lost. Even assuming symmetrical preferences regarding losses and gains for health benefits, the findings do not fall within the cost-effective region. Similar findings arose for analyses conducted from the societal perspective and using complete cases only.

Conclusions: This economic evaluation indicates that hydroxychloroquine is unlikely to provide a cost-effective pain relief option for improving health-related quality of life in adult patients with moderate-to-severe hand osteoarthritis.

economic evaluation, hand osteoarthritis, hydroxychloroquine, randomised controlled trial, cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-utility analysis
Original languageEnglish
Article number821
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2021 Ronaldson SJ et al.

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