• clinical trials;
  • cost-benefit analysis;
  • cytarabine;
  • interferon-α;
  • chronic myeloid leukemia;
  • survival analysis



Despite a lack of long-term data, imatinib has become standard therapy for patients with newly diagnosed chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who are not candidates for allogeneic stem cell transplantation. In the current study, the authors estimated the incremental cost-effectiveness of imatinib versus interferon-α plus low-dose cytarabine (IFN+LDAC) as first-line therapy for these patients.


Data from the International Randomized Interferon versus STI571 Study and the literature were used to estimate lifetime costs, survival, and quality-adjusted survival. Survival estimates were based on published survival curves for patients who achieved and those who did not achieve a complete cytogenetic response after treatment with interferon-α.


The mean estimated survival with first-line imatinib therapy was 15.30 years, compared with 9.07 years with IFN+LDAC. Undiscounted lifetime costs were approximately $424,600 with imatinib and $182,800 with IFN+LDAC. Using a 3% discount rate, the incremental survival gain with imatinib was 3.93 life-years and 3.89 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Incremental discounted lifetime costs were found to be $168,100 higher with imatinib, resulting in incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of $43,100 per life-year saved (95% confidence interval [95% CI], $37,600–51,100) and $43,300 per QALY (95% CI, $38,300–49,100).


The results of the current study demonstrate that compared with IFN+LDAC, imatinib is a cost-effective first-line therapy in patients with newly diagnosed chronic-phase CML. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.