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Objectives: To determine whether nalmefene combined with psychosocial support is cost-effective compared with psychosocial support alone for reducing alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent patients with high/very high drinking risk levels (DRLs) as defined by the WHO, and to evaluate the public health benefit of reducing harmful alcohol-attributable diseases, injuries and deaths.
Design: Decision modelling using Markov chains compared costs and effects over 5 years.
Setting: The analysis was from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Wales.
Participants: The model considered the licensed population for nalmefene, specifically adults with both alcohol dependence and high/very high DRLs, who do not require immediate detoxification and who continue to have high/very high DRLs after initial assessment.
Data sources: We modelled treatment effect using data from three clinical trials for nalmefene (ESENSE 1 (NCT00811720), ESENSE 2 (NCT00812461) and SENSE (NCT00811941)). Baseline characteristics of the model population, treatment resource utilization and utilities were from these trials. We estimated the number of alcohol-attributable events occurring at different levels of alcohol consumption based on published epidemiological risk-relation studies. Health related costs were from UK sources.
Main outcome measures: We measured incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained and number of alcohol-attributable harmful events avoided.
Results: Nalmefene in combination with psychosocial support had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £5204 per QALY gained, and was therefore cost-effective at the £20.000 per QALY gained decision threshold. Sensitivity analyses showed that the conclusion was robust. Nalmefene plus psychosocial support led to the avoidance of 7179 alcohol attributable diseases/injuries and 309 deaths per 100.000 patients compared to psychosocial support alone over the course of 5 years.
Conclusions: Nalmefene can be seen as a cost effective treatment for alcohol dependence, with substantial public health benefits.