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Open Access Commentary

Pharmacoeconomic burden in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis: from systematic reviews to real clinical practice studies

Ennio Lubrano1 and Antonio Spadaro2*

Author Affiliations

1 Academic Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Specialità Mediche - UOC di Reumatologia, “Sapienza” - Università di Roma, Azienda Policlinico Umberto I, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome, Italy

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-25

Published: 20 January 2014


The economic assessment of treatment options in a chronic and severe disease like Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is crucial to estimate the burden of costs. In particular, the impact of new costly medications such as biologic agents have been studied to figure this important aspect of a multifaceted disease. In a previous observational, longitudinal multicentre cost evaluation study, the results showed that biologic agents are cost-effective. This study was obtained from the real clinical practice and encompassed PsA patients refractory to traditional treatments. Similar data were also obtained from reviews analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs). Recently, Cawson et al. performed a systematic review, network meta-analysis and economic evaluation of biological therapy for the management of active PsA. The review was conducted to identify relevant, recently published studies and the new trial data were synthesized, via a Bayesian network meta-analysis (NMA), to estimate the relative efficacy of the TNF-α inhibitors in terms of Psoriatic Arthritis Response Criteria (PsARC) response, Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) scores and Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI). In particular the analysis showed that, on average, etanercept was the most cost-effective treatment and, at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence willingness-to-pay threshold of between £20,000 to £30,000, etanercept is the preferred option. This study, as a systematic review, has been focused on main RCTs on active PsA treated by biological DMARDs and limitations to this analysis arise from a paucity of data on long-term follow up, as well as radiological progression and long-term safety. These interesting results reflected the important role of biologic agents in the management of PsA, highlighting their efficacy and cost-effectiveness. However, there are some unmet needs for pharmacoeconomic considerations based on prospective and/or on real clinical practice studies, as well as considering all the intriguing aspects of this challenging disease.