Both the complexity of clinically applied tissue engineering techniques for articular cartilage repair – such as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) – plus increasing healthcare costs, and market competition, are forcing a shift in focus from two-stage to single-stage interventions that are more cost-effective. Early health economic models are expected to provide essential insight in the parameters driving the cost-effectiveness of new interventions before they are introduced into clinical practice. The present study estimated the likely incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of a new investigator-driven single-stage procedure (IMPACT) compared with both microfracture and ACI, and identified those parameters that affect the cost-effectiveness. A decision tree with clinical health states was constructed. The ICER was calculated by dividing the incremental societal costs by the incremental Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). Costs were determined from a societal perspective. A headroom analysis was performed to determine the maximum price of IMPACT compared with both ACI and microfracture, assuming a societal willingness to pay (WTP) of €30 000/QALY. One-way sensitivity analysis was performed to identify those parameters that drive the cost-effectiveness. The societal costs of IMPACT, ACI and microfracture were found to be €11 797, €29 741 and €6081, respectively. An 8% increase in all utilities after IMPACT changes the ICER of IMPACT vs. microfracture from €147 513/QALY to €28 588/QALY. Compared with ACI, IMPACT is less costly, which is largely attributable to the cell expansion procedure that has been rendered redundant. While microfracture can be considered the most cost-effective treatment option for smaller defects, a single-stage tissue engineering procedure can replace ACI to improve the cost-effectiveness for treating larger defects, especially if clinical non-inferiority can be achieved.
de Windt, T. S., Sorel, J. C., Vonk, L. A., Kip, M. M. A., IJzerman, M. J., & Saris, D. B. F. (2017). Early health economic modelling of single-stage cartilage repair. Guiding implementation of technologies in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, 11(10), 2950-2959. https://doi.org/10.1002/term.2197