Drug-eluting stents (DESs) and less-expensive bare-metal stents (BMSs) performed equally well in patients with failed saphenous vein grafts after coronary artery bypass graft surgery, based on an analysis of patients in the DIVA trial.
The findings run counter to those of previous clinical trials, which had found drug-eluting stents perform better than bare-metal stents in these situations. “The study results have important economic implications in countries with high DES prices, such as the USA, because they suggest that the lower-cost BMS can be used in SVG [saphenous vein graft] lesions without compromising either safety or efficacy,” lead author Emmanouil S. Brilakis, MD, PhD, of Minneapolis Heart Institute and his coauthors said in reporting the results for the DIVA trial investigators in the Lancet.
The DIVA trial was a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial done at 25 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs centers. Researchers randomly assigned 599 patients who had previous coronary artery bypass surgery to either the DES or BMS groups, and the study reported data from 597 patients. The combined endpoint comprised cardiac death, target vessel MI, or target vessel revascularization at 12 months and then over the entire length of follow-up, which ranged from 2 to 7 years. Operators used the DES or BMS of their choice.
While BMSs are presumed to be less expensive than DESs, the study authors did not provide prices or price ranges for the stents. Dr. Brilakis and his coauthors acknowledged that the financial implications depend on local stent pricing practices.
The cost-effectiveness of using DESs vs. BMSs has been controversial, with many studies reporting that BMS are cost-effective over the long-term because of the lower incidence of revascularization and later hospitalization. These studies did not differentiate between SVG and native vessels, however. Multiple studies have reported that the overall costs, including the cost for reintervention, are lower for DESs than for BMSs in native vessels. A Wake Forest study reported the average per procedure cost was $1,846 higher for a DES but the cost was offset after 3 years by lower revascularization rates (Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2011. doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.110.960187)
A recent Korean study found the total cost of DESs was about 5% higher (Yonsei Med J. 2014 Nov;55:1533-41). A French study reported BMSs resulted in a cost reduction $217 per case (Open Heart. 2016 Aug 25;3:e000445). But few, if any, studies have directly compared prices hospitals pay for DESs and BMSs.