PHILADELPHIA – The overall costs of icosapent ethyl were less than placebo, and the medication reduced cardiovascular events by 30% at a cost that fits well within acceptable quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) parameters, according to a cost-effectiveness analysis of the REDUCE-IT trial.
Days before the presentation of the analysis at the American Heart Association scientific sessions, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of icosapent ethyl (Vascepa) for a new indication for reducing CV event risk. Icosapent ethyl, a highly purified form of the ethyl ester of eicosapentaenoic acid derived from fish oil, received FDA approval in 2012 for treatment of triglyceride levels of at least 500 mg/dL.
“What we found here is that icosapent ethyl is a dominant strategy,” said William S. Weintraub, MD, director of outcomes research at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute in Washington, in reporting preliminary cost-analysis findings from REDUCE-IT (Reduction of Cardiovascular Events With Icosapent Ethyl – Intervention Trial). “It’s offering better outcomes at a lower cost.”
The dominant strategy was demonstrated by cost savings in 70% of simulations the cost-effectiveness analysis ran, Dr. Weintraub said.
“These are very impressive results,” said session moderator Seth S. Martin, MD, an internist and cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “We don’t often see dominant strategies for new drugs. This is very exciting.”
“Almost never,” Dr. Weintraub responded.
REDUCE-IT randomized 8,179 patients with a diagnosis of CVD or with diabetes and other risk factors who had been on statins and had triglycerides of 135-499 mg/dL to either 4 g of icosapent ethyl daily or placebo (N Engl J Med. 2019;380:11-22). Trial results showed the treatment group had an absolute risk reduction of 4.8% and a relative risk reduction of 25% of first CV events and a 30% relative risk reduction for total events, Dr. Weintraub said.
The analysis determined that the QALYs for icosapent ethyl versus those for placebo were 3.34 and 3.27, respectively, during the trial period and 11.61 and 11.35 over a lifetime. The mean costs for the two treatments were $27,576 and $28,205 during the trial period and $235,352 and $236,636 lifetime, respectively, Dr. Weintraub said.
An analysis of cost effectiveness showed that almost all of the estimates fell below the willingness-to-pay (WTP) threshold of $50,000 per QALY gained, Dr. Weintraub said. “In fact, some 70% plus are in what’s called quadrant two; that is, decreased cost and increased efficacy.”
The analysis also calculated the value of icosapent ethyl at three different WTP thresholds: up to $6 a day at a WTP of $50,000, up to $12 a day at $100,000, and up to $18 a day at $150,000. The analysis used the actual net pricing of $4.16 a day, Dr. Weintraub said. “That’s why we showed we have the dominant strategy,” he said.
Further cost-effectiveness analyses of the REDUCE-IT data will focus on subgroups, such as U.S. and non–U.S. patients and people with diabetes. He also emphasized the data he reported were preliminary. “We have a lot more work to do,” Dr. Weintraub said.
Dr. Weintraub reported having financial relationships with Amarin Pharma, which markets Vascepa, and AstraZeneca.
SOURCE: Weintraub WS. AHA 2019, Session FS.AOS.F1.