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Keywords:

  • allergen-specific;
  • asthma;
  • cost-effectiveness;
  • grass pollen allergy;
  • immunotherapy;
  • QALY;
  • Rhinoconjunctivitis;
  • tablet

Background:  In the United Kingdom, approximately 10.8 million people suffer from asthma, placing an economic burden on the society of more than £2 billion per year. For allergic asthma, treatment options consist of allergen avoidance, symptomatic treatment and allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT). Only SIT addresses the underlying cause of the disease, reducing symptoms and offering the potential for long-term improvement. Grazax – the first tablet-based SIT – is indicated for the treatment of patients with grass pollen-induced rhinoconjunctivitis, including those with co-existing asthma.

Objective:  To assess the cost-effectiveness of Grazax in patients with rhinoconjunctivitis and co-existing asthma.

Methods:  A prospective pharmacoeconomic analysis was carried out as part of a multinational clinical trial assessing the efficacy of Grazax (n = 79) compared with placebo (n = 72). Both groups had access to symptomatic medication; thus the placebo group represented current standard care. Pooled data on health resource use, productivity loss because of absence from work and quality of life (Quality Adjusted Life Years, QALYs) were collected in the trial. Reduced productivity at work was estimated from the literature. A societal perspective was adopted with a 9-year time horizon. The NHS price of Grazax of £2.25 per tablet was used.

Results:  The QALY gain was significantly higher for patients treated with Grazax than the placebo group receiving symptomatic medication alone (0.197 discounted QALYs gained 9 years into the future – equal to an extra 72 days of perfect health over 9 years). The levels of resource use and productivity loss were higher for the placebo group. As a result, the cost per QALY gained with Grazax was £4319, which is highly cost-effective. Price sensitivity analyses demonstrated that Grazax remained cost-effective up to a tablet price of £5.07.

Conclusion:  SIT with Grazax is a cost-effective strategy compared with standard management of patients with rhinoconjunctivitis and co-existing asthma.