Open Access Research article

Societal Costs and Benefits of Treatment with Trastuzumab in Patients with Early HER2neu-Overexpressing Breast Cancer in Singapore

Gilberto de Lima Lopes

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Oncology, Johns Hopkins Singapore International Medical Centre, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng (Level 1), Singapore, (308433), Republic of Singapore

BMC Cancer 2011, 11:178  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-178

Published: 18 May 2011



Trastuzumab has revolutionized the way we treat early Her2Neu-positive breast cancer, as it significantly improves disease-free and overall survival. Little is known about the societal costs and benefits of treatment with trastuzumab in the adjuvant setting in Southeast Asia.


Societal costs (benefits) were estimated as the sum of direct and indirect costs minus benefits in the base case. Direct costs were derived from 4 treatment centers in Singapore (2 private and 2 public, comprising 60-70% of all patients with cancer seen in the island-nation); indirect costs were assessed as the loss of productivity caused by the disease or treatment. Benefits to society were based on extra years of productivity, as measured by GNI per capita, resulting from the quality adjusted life-years (QALYs) saved with the use of trastuzumab as determined in the models by Kurian, Liberato and Garrison.


Incremental costs in Singapore, in 2005 US dollars, were $26,971.05. Average Cost per QALY was $19,174.59 (Median: $18,993.70). Costs (benefits) to society ranged from a cost of $79.42 to a benefit of $9,263.06, depending on the model used (Average benefit: $4,375.89, Median $3,944.03). Sensitivity analysis ranged from a cost of $10,685.00 to a Benefit of US$17,298.79


Treatment with adjuvant trastuzumab is likely to generate net societal economic benefits in Singapore. Nevertheless, the lower range of possible outcomes does not refute the possibility that treatment may actually generate costs. These costs however clearly fall within the usual range of acceptable cost-effectiveness.