Treatment of proximal vein thrombosis with subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin vs intravenous heparin. An economic perspective
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BACKGROUND: Subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin is at least as effective and safe as classic intravenous heparin therapy for the treatment of proximal vein thrombosis. Anticoagulant monitoring is not required with low-molecular-weight heparin. OBJECTIVE: To perform an economic evaluation of these therapeutic approaches by comparing cost and effectiveness. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A randomized trial in 432 patients with proximal vein thrombosis that compared intravenous heparin and low-molecular-weight heparin with objective documentation of clinical outcomes provided the opportunity to perform an analysis of cost-effectiveness to rank these alternative therapies in terms of both their cost and effectiveness. The economic viewpoint of this analysis was that of a third-party payer (ie, a ministry of health in Canada or an insurance company in the United States). RESULTS: In the intravenous heparin-treated group, the cost incurred for 100 patients was $414,655 (Canadian dollars) or $375,836 (US dollars), with a frequency of objectively documented venous thromboembolism of 6.9%. In the low-molecular-weight heparin-treated group, the cost incurred for 100 patients was $399,403 (Canadian dollars) or $335,687 (US dollars), with a frequency of objectively documented venous thromboembolism of 2.8%, thus providing a cost saving of $15,252 (Canadian dollars) or $40,149 (US dollars). Multiple sensitivity analyses were performed, and these procedures did not alter the findings of the study. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that low-molecular-weight heparin therapy is at least as effective and safe but less costly than intravenous heparin treatment. The potential for outpatient therapy in up to 37% of patients who are receiving low-molecular-weight heparin would substantially augment the cost saving.
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