Modelling the Cost Effectiveness of Antidepressant Treatment in Primary Care Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The aim of this study was to estimate the cost effectiveness of nefazodone compared with imipramine or fluoxetine in treating women with major depressive disorder. Clinical decision analysis and a Markov state-transition model were used to estimate the lifetime health outcomes and medical costs of 3 antidepressant treatments. The model, which represents ideal primary care practice, compares treatment with nefazodone to treatment with either imipramine or fluoxetine. The economic analysis was based on the healthcare system of the Canadian province of Ontario, and considered only direct medical costs. Health outcomes were expressed as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs were in 1993 Canadian dollars ($Can; $Can1 = $US0.75, September 1995). Incremental cost-utility ratios were calculated comparing the relative lifetime discounted medical costs and QALYs associated with nefazodone with those of imipramine or fluoxetine. Data for constructing the model and estimating necessary parameters were derived from the medical literature, clinical trial data, and physician judgement. Data included information on: Ontario primary care physicians' clinical management of major depression; medical resource use and costs; probabilities of recurrence of depression; suicide rates; compliance rates; and health utilities. Estimates of utilities for depression-related hypothetical health states were obtained from patients with major depression (n = 70). Medical costs and QALYs were discounted to present value using a 5% rate. Sensitivity analyses tested the assumptions of the model by varying the discount rate, depression recurrence rates, compliance rates, and the duration of the model. The base case analysis found that nefazodone treatment costs $Can1447 less per patient than imipramine treatment (discounted lifetime medical costs were $Can50,664 vs $Can52,111) and increases the number of QALYs by 0.72 (13.90 vs 13.18). Nefazodone treatment costs $Can14 less than fluoxetine treatment (estimated discounted lifetime medical costs were $Can50,664 vs $Can50,678) and produces slightly more QALYs (13.90 vs 13.79). In the sensitivity analyses, the cost-effectiveness ratios comparing nefazodone with imipramine ranged from cost saving to $Can17,326 per QALY gained. The cost-effectiveness ratios comparing nefazodone with fluoxetine ranged from cost saving to $Can7327 per QALY gained. The model was most sensitive to assumptions about treatment compliance rates and recurrence rates. The findings suggest that nefazodone may be a cost-effective treatment for major depression compared with imipramine or fluoxetine. The basic findings and conclusions do not change even after modifying model parameters within reasonable ranges.


  • Revicki, Dennis A
  • Brown, Ruth E
  • Palmer, Wilfred
  • Bakish, David
  • Rosser, Walter W
  • Anton, Susan F
  • Feeny, David

publication date

  • December 1995