Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation May be a Cost-Effective Alternative to Antidepressant Therapy After Two Treatment Failures in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder

SOURCE: BMC Psychiatry. 22(1):437, 2022 Jun 28.

AUTHORS: Zemplenyi A; Jozwiak-Hagymasy J; Kovacs S; Erdosi D; Boncz I; Tenyi T; Osvath P; Voros V

BACKGROUND: The cost-effectiveness of treatment strategies for patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) who have not responded to two adequate treatments with antidepressants (TRD) are still unclear. The aim of this analysis was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of add-on repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) compared with standard treatment.

METHODS: A Markov-model simulated clinical events over one year from the perspective of healthcare payer. Third- and fourth-line treatment pathways (augmentation, antidepressant switch or combination, and Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT)) were defined based on medical practice guidelines. Transition probabilities were derived from a recent meta-analysis and scientific publications. Resource utilization and cost estimates were based on the patient-level database of a large university hospital.

RESULTS: Incremental Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and costs were 0.053 and 785 , respectively, corresponding to an Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) of 14,670 per QALY. The difference in cost between standard treatment and rTMS is explained by the rTMS sessions used in acute (660) and maintenance (57/month) treatments, partly offset by lower hospital costs due to higher remission rates in the rTMS arm. Key parameters driving the ICER were incremental utility of remission, unit cost of rTMS treatment and remission rate. At a threshold of 22,243 add-on rTMS is a cost-effective alternative to pharmacotherapy. Evidence on long-term effectiveness is not yet available, so results are estimated for a one-year period.

CONCLUSION: Not only does rTMS treatment have beneficial clinical effects compared with drug therapy in TRD, but it also appears to offer good value-for-money, especially in centres with larger numbers of patients where unit costs can be kept low.