The cost-effectiveness of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids – The Australian healthcare perspective

  • Lan Gao
    Corresponding author at: Deakin Health Economics, Institute for Health Transformation, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Melbourne, Australia.
    Deakin Health Economics, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

    Global Obesity Centre, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

    School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia
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  • Marj Moodie
    Deakin Health Economics, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

    Global Obesity Centre, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
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  • Shu-Chuen Li
    School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia
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      • The efficacy of icosapent ethyl in secondary prevention of CVD has been demonstrated.
      • We conducted a modelled economic evaluation based on efficacy data from a clinical trial.
      • Clinical data were derived from the key clinical trial that followed up patients for 5 years.
      • Icosapent ethyl was not considered cost-effective given the high US acquisition cost.



      To examine the cost-effectiveness of a triglyceride lowering medication–icosapent ethyl added on to statin from Australian healthcare system perspective.


      A Markov-model was developed using data from the pivotal trial of icosapent ethyl in a secondary prevention population. Probabilities of CVD events were derived and extrapolated from the published Kaplan-Meier curve using a valid algorithm. Management cost of CVD, health-related quality of life, and background non-CVD mortality were extracted from publicly available sources. Acquisition cost of icosapent ethyl from the United States was used in the current analysis. Australian patients with histories of CVD were modelled for a 25 year time horizon and costs and benefits were discounted. Sensitivity analyses (SA) were undertaken. Value of perfect information (VPI) was quantified.


      Treatment with icosapent ethyl was associated with both higher costs and benefits (i.e. quality-adjusted life year [QALY] and life year [LY]), resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of AUD59,036/QALY or AUD54,358/LY. Using the often quoted willingness-to-pay (WTP)/QALY of AUD50,000/QALY, icosapent ethyl was not considered cost-effective. SA showed that time horizon, drug cost, and discount rate were the key drivers of the ICER. Total monetary VPI for icosapent ethyl was over AUD15 million over 5 years.


      Patients with established CVD in whom level of triglycerides is high would benefit from the treatment using icosapent ethyl, however, it is not a cost-effective from an Australian healthcare system perspective. The government may consider subsidising this medication given the clinical need but at a discounted acquisition cost.


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