Will the use of low-molecular-weight heparin (enoxaparin) in patients with acute coronary syndrome save costs in Canada?
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BACKGROUND: One-year follow-up data from the Efficacy and Safety of Subcutaneous Enoxaparin in Non-Q-Wave Coronary Events (ESSENCE) trial show that use of low-molecular-weight heparin (enoxaparin) compared with unfractionated heparin in patients hospitalized with unstable angina or non-Q-wave myocardial infarction is associated with a 10% reduction in the cumulative 1-year risk of death, myocardial infarction, or recurrent angina. Given the higher acquisition cost of enoxaparin relative to unfractionated heparin, we assessed whether the reduced use of revascularization procedures and related care makes enoxaparin a cost-saving therapy in Canada. METHODS AND RESULTS: We analyzed cumulative 1-year resource use data on the 1259 ESSENCE patients enrolled in Canadian centers (40% of the total ESSENCE sample). Patient-specific data on use of drugs, diagnostic cardiac catheterization, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, coronary artery bypass grafting, and hospital days were available from the initial hospital stay and cumulative to 1 year. Hospital resources were costed with the use of data from a teaching hospital in southern Ontario that is a participant in the Ontario Case Costing Project. During the initial hospital stay, use of enoxaparin was associated with reduced use of diagnostic catheterization and revascularization procedures, with the largest effect being reduced use of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (15.0% vs 10.6%; P =.03). At 1 year, the reduced risk and costs of revascularization more than offset increased drug costs for enoxaparin, producing a cost-saving per patient of $1485 (95% confidence interval $-93 to $3167; P =.06). Sensitivity analysis with lower hospital per diem costs from a community hospital in Ontario still predicts cost savings of $1075 per patient over a period of 1 year. CONCLUSIONS: The acquisition and administration cost of enoxaparin is higher than for unfractionated heparin ($101 vs $39), but in patients with acute coronary syndrome, the reduced need for hospitalization and revascularization over a period of 1 year more than offsets this initial difference in cost. Evidence from this Canadian substudy of ESSENCE supports the view that enoxaparin is less costly and more effective than unfractionated heparin in this indication.
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