An Evaluation of the Cost-Effectiveness of Rituximab in Combination with Chemotherapy for the First-Line Treatment of Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in the UK


Joshua A. Ray, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Ltd, Global Health Economics & Pricing, Grenzacherstrasse 124, CH-4070 Basel, Switzerland. E-mail:


Objectives:  In this study, the cost-effectiveness of rituximab was evaluated in comparison with commonly used chemotherapy regimens for patients with advanced follicular lymphoma (FL), from the perspective of the UK National Health Service (NHS).

Methods:  Results from four randomized controlled trials comparing the addition of rituximab to chemotherapy regimens: mitoxantrone, chlorambucil, and prednisolone (MCP); cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisolone (CVP); cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone (CHOP); or cyclophosphamide, etoposide, doxorubicin, prednisolone, and interferon alpha (CHVP + IFNα) versus chemotherapy alone were used to develop a Markov model. The rates of disease progression and the duration of treatment effect were obtained from the trial data. Treatments were compared in two ways: 1) an individual comparison of rituximab + chemotherapy versus chemotherapy and 2) a multiple treatment comparison using league tables. Economic and clinical outcomes (quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs)) were estimated over patient lifetimes and discounted at 3.5% per annum.

Results:  In the individual comparison, the addition of rituximab increased QALYs by (mean, 95% confidence interval) 1.174 (1.02–1.30), 0.909 (0.79–1.01), 0.823 (0.71–0.91), and 0.453 (0.40–0.50) for MCP, CVP, CHOP, and CHVP, respectively, compared with chemotherapy alone. The incremental costs per QALY gained were £7474, £8621, £10,732, and £8551, respectively. Sensitivity analyses indicated that rituximab plus chemotherapy was a cost-effective treatment option, with incremental cost-effectiveness ratios below a threshold of £30,000 per QALY gained. When compared across the chemotherapy regimens, rituximab plus MCP appeared to be the single most cost-effective treatment option, but further randomized trials are required to substantiate this.

Conclusions:  The addition of rituximab to chemotherapy in advanced FL was found to be highly cost-effective in the UK.