The most frequent cause of mortality and morbidity in industrialized countries is coronary artery disease (CAD), which in Europe alone is responsible for around two million deaths per year. In 2001 it accounted for about 260,000 hospital discharges in Italy. The costs of CAD treatment in Italy—which were borne by the Italian state, the third-party payer—amounted to €800 million.
We propose to assess the pharmacoeconomic implications of using amlodipine besylate treatment in Italy for patients with coronary artery disease. The study is based on a post-hoc cost-effectiveness analysis that compared standard care supplemented by amlodipine besylate with ordinary standard care over a 36-month time horizon. The clinical outcome data were based on the prospective randomized evaluation of vascular effect of norvasc trial (PREVENT). Direct medical costs referred to the purchase costs of amlodipine besylate and the cost of National Health Service (NHS) hospitalization. The costs were discounted back at an annual rate of 5%.
Patients administered amlodipine besylate exhibited a significant risk reduction with respect to any major vascular event or procedure when compared to the placebo group. The reduction mainly referred to unstable angina events and revascularization procedures. We estimated that the total cost of adding amlodipine besylate to standard care amounted to €139,050 per 1000 patients treated for 36 months. This represents a cost of €1780 per patient remaining free of any vascular event. Results were sensitive to both clinical and economic variables. The incremental costs of the alternative therapy ranged from €296 to 5066 per patient free of any event in, respectively, the best and worst scenario.
Amlodipine besylate therapy can be a cost-effective strategy for CAD treatment in Italy. Our economic evaluation demonstrated, first, that by reducing vascular events and the need for revascularization procedures savings were achieved in hospital expenditure, and, second, that such savings could significantly offset drug costs.