As part of the single technology appraisal (STA) process, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) invited Janssen to submit evidence on the clinical and cost effectiveness of their drug ustekinumab, an interleukin-12/23 inhibitor, for treating moderate-to-severe active Crohn's disease (CD). The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) and Centre for Health Economics (CHE) Technology Appraisal Group at the University of York was commissioned to act as the independent Evidence Review Group (ERG). This article provides a description of the Company's submission, the ERG's critical review of submitted evidence, and the resulting NICE guidance. The main supporting clinical evidence was derived from four well conducted, randomised controlled trials, comparing ustekinumab with placebo in two sub-populations (conventional care failure and anti-TNFα failure patients) of adults with moderate-to-severe CD. Three trials assessed treatment induction over 8 weeks, while the fourth recruited successfully induced patients into a maintenance trial for 1 year. These trials showed ustekinumab to be more effective than placebo in terms of its ability to induce and maintain clinical response and remission. In the absence of any direct head-to-head data, the Company conducted a network meta-analysis (NMA), which synthesised induction trial data on ustekinumab and relevant comparators (vedolizumab, adalimumab and infliximab) using placebo data as a common comparator. This analysis found ustekinumab to be of comparable efficacy to previously approved biologics in treatment induction. A 'treatment sequence analysis' compared long-term treatment efficacy, finding ustekinumab to be comparable in maintaining treatment response and remission to the three other biologic therapies. However, the ERG had identified many limitations and potential bias in this analysis, and urged caution when interpreting the results. The Company's economic model estimated ustekinumab to be dominant in both sub-populations compared with conventional care; however, the ERG's preferred base-case estimated an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £109,279 in the conventional care failure sub-population, and £110,967 in the anti-TNFα failure sub-population when compared with conventional care. However, the ERG identified significant failings in both the model structure and data inputs, which could not be addressed without complete restructuring. The ERG considered that the economic analysis presented by the Company failed to adequately address the decision problem specified in NICE's scope. The NICE Appraisal Committee recommended ustekinumab within its market authorisation, on the grounds of sufficiently similar efficacy and costs to previously recommended biologic therapies. However, the ERG's analyses demonstrated that all currently recommended biologics are unlikely to be cost effective relative to conventional care, raising broader questions regarding the appropriateness of cost-comparison exercises for decision making.
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