Medical management of early pregnancy loss costs less and offers similar quality of life to uterine aspiration, based on data from an analytical model.
Early pregnancy loss (EPL) occurs in more than 1 million women in the United States each year, and many patients are diagnosed before they show symptoms, wrote Divyah Nagendra, MD, of Cambridge Health Alliance, Mass., and colleagues.
A 2018 study showed that medical management of EPL with mifepristone added to misoprostol increased effectiveness and reduced the need for additional medication or subsequent uterine procedures, but the cost of mifepristone is perceived as a barrier, and the cost-effectiveness of its use, compared with surgical or expectant management, has not been well studied, the researchers noted.
“We already know that adding mifepristone to the medical management of early pregnancy loss increases the effectiveness of the regimen,” coauthor Courtney A. Schreiber, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said in an interview. “Procedural uterine aspiration is highly effective as well, so patients and providers may consider the cost when deciding on a treatment strategy,” she added.
“If medication management is preferred by many patients, decreases the need to access in-person clinical care during a pandemic, and is found to be cost-effective, clinicians and policymakers should increase efforts to improve mifepristone availability and reduce access burdens,” the researchers wrote.
In a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the researchers created a decision-analytic model using data from published literature and the Pregnancy Failure Regiments Trial (PreFaiR) to compare office-based uterine aspiration to medical management with mifepristone pretreatment followed by misoprostol for EPL.
The PrFaiR study randomized 300 women who experienced EPL before 12 weeks’ gestation to medication management with 800 mcg misoprostol vaginally, with or without pretreatment of 200 mg mifeprestone orally. The average age of the participants was 30.7 years, and demographics were similar between the groups.
The researchers used the PrFaiR data for medical management and patient-level data from published literature for uterine aspiration.
The primary outcome was the cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained. QALY was based on a modified utility score from the published literature. Effectiveness was based on QALY gained and the rate of complete expulsion of the gestational sac without additional intervention.
Overall, the mean costs per person were significantly higher for uterine aspiration, compared with medical management ($828 vs. $661, P = .004). Uterine aspiration was significantly more effective for complete gestational sac expulsion (97.3% vs. 83.8%, P = .0001). However, the QALYs were significantly higher for medical management, compared with uterine aspiration (0.082 vs. 0.079, P < .0001).
Cost-effectiveness was greater for medical management from a health care sector perspective, with lower costs and higher QALYs than uterine aspiration, the researchers noted.
They also evaluated the effect of mifepristone pretreatment on cost-effectiveness and found that medical management would remain cost effective, compared with uterine aspiration even if uterine aspiration procedures decreased in cost and mifepristone increased in cost, and even if medication management had a decreased completion rate and utility score, compared with uterine aspiration.
“Our analysis demonstrates that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for medical management is well below the maximum willingness-to-pay threshold of approximately $100,000 per QALY gained,” the researchers wrote in their discussion of the findings.