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Informing policy for the Australian context – Costs, outcomes and cost savings of prenatal carrier screening for cystic fibrosis

Authors

  • Susannah MAXWELL,

    1. Office of Population Health Genomics, Department of Health, Perth
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  • Kate BRAMELD,

    1. Office of Population Health Genomics, Department of Health, Perth
    2. School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Crawley
    3. Centre for Population Health Research, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia
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  • Leanne YOUNGS,

    1. Office of Population Health Genomics, Department of Health, Perth
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  • Elizabeth GEELHOED,

    1. School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Crawley
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  • Peter O’LEARY

    1. Office of Population Health Genomics, Department of Health, Perth
    2. Centre for Population Health Research, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia
    3. School of Women’s & Infants’ Health and School of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
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Dr Peter O’Leary, Office of Population Health Genomics, Department of Health, PO Box 8172, Stirling Street, Perth, WA 6849, Australia. Email: peter.oleary@health.wa.gov.auAll authors have no competing interests.

Abstract

Aims:  To examine the costs, outcomes and cost savings of three models of prenatal cystic fibrosis (CF) carrier screening compared to no screening from a public health sector perspective.

Methods:  A decision tree was generated to estimate costs and outcomes for each screening model for a hypothetical cohort of 38 000 pregnancies. Sensitivity analysis assessed the impact of model parameter variation.

Results:  Under baseline assumptions, the initial annual cost to provide a prenatal CF carrier-screening programme is Au$5.32 million, Au$3.35 million and $2.93 million for one-step, two-step simultaneous and two-step sequential screening respectively. Annual costs are significantly lower for an established programme. No screening model provides a net saving over a lifetime horizon; however, the results were sensitive to variation in lifetime cost of care, screening test costs and number of pregnancies per carrier couple.

Conclusions:  Under some scenarios, prenatal CF carrier screening is cost saving to the health system; however, this is not conclusive and depends on several factors. Cost remains a potential barrier due to the substantial level of funding required in the short term. Feasibility and psychosocial, ethical and legal implications of screening need to be considered. Additionally, consultation is required with the Australian community on the acceptability and/or desire for prenatal CF carrier screening.

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