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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Pregabalin versus gabapentin in the management of peripheral neuropathic pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy: a cost effectiveness analysis for the Greek healthcare setting

Kostas Athanasakis1*, Ioannis Petrakis1, Eleftheria Karampli1, Elli Vitsou2, Leonidas Lyras2 and John Kyriopoulos1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Economics, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece

2 Pfizer Hellas, Athens, Greece

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BMC Neurology 2013, 13:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-56

Published: 4 June 2013



The anticonvulsants pregabalin and gabapentin are both indicated for the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain. The decision on which treatment provides the best alternative, should take into account all aspects of costs and outcomes associated with the two therapeutic options. The objective of this study was to examine the cost – effectiveness of the two agents in the management of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy or post – herpetic neuralgia, under the third party payer perspective in Greece.


The analysis was based on a dynamic simulation model which estimated and compared the costs and outcomes of pregabalin and gabapentin in a hypothetical cohort of 1,000 patients suffering from painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) or Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN). In the model, each patient was randomly allocated an average pretreatment pain score, measured using an eleven-point visual analogue scale (0 – 10) and was “run through” the model, simulating their daily pain intensity and allowing for stochastic calculation of outcomes, taking into account medical interventions and the effectiveness of each treatment.


Pregabalin demonstrated a reduction in days with moderate to severe pain when compared to gabapentin. During the 12 weeks the pregabalin arm demonstrated a 0.1178 (SE 0.0002) QALY gain, which proved to be 0.0063 (SE 0.0003) higher than that in the gabapentin arm. The mean medication cost per patient was higher for the pregabalin arm when compared to the gabapentin arm (i.e. €134.40) over the 12 week treatment period. However, this higher cost was partially offset by the reduced direct medical costs (i.e. the cost of specialist visits, the cost of diagnostic tests and the other applied interventions). Comparing costs with respective outcomes, the ICERs for pregabalin versus gabapentin were €13 (95%CI: 8 – 18) per additional day with no or mild pain and €19,320 (95%CI: 11,743 – 26,755) per QALY gained.


Neuropathic pain carries a great disease burden for patients and society and, is also, associated with a significant economic burden. The treatment of pain associated with DPN and PHN with pregabalin is a cost-effective intervention for the social security in Greece compared to gabapentin. Thus, these findings need to be taken into consideration in the decision – making process when considering which therapy to use for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Peripheral neuropathic pain; Post-herpetic neuralgia; Diabetic neuropathy; Pregabalin; Gabapentin; Cost-effectiveness analysis