Evaluating the Impact of Cost on the Treatment Algorithm for Chronic Idiopathic Constipation: Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Eric D. Shah, Kyle Staller, Judy Nee, Nitin K. Ahuja, Walter W. Chan, Anthony Lembo, Darren M. Brenner, Corey A. Siegel, William D. Chey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) is a common and burdensome illness. We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved CIC drugs to evaluate and quantify treatment preferences compared with usual care from insurer and patient perspectives. METHODS: We evaluated the subset of patients with CIC and documented failure of over-the-counter (OTC) osmotic or bulk-forming laxatives. A RAND/UCLA consensus panel of 8 neurogastroenterologists informed model design. Treatment outcomes and costs were defined using integrated analyses of registered clinical trials and the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-supported cost databases. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were calculated using health utilities derived from clinical trials. A 12-week time horizon was used. RESULTS: With continued OTC laxatives, CIC-related costs were $569 from an insurer perspective compared with $3,154 from a patient perspective (considering lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses). CIC prescription drugs increased insurer costs by $618-$1,015 but decreased patient costs by $327-$1,117. Effectiveness of CIC drugs was similar (0.02 QALY gained/12 weeks or ∼7 healthy days gained/year). From an insurer perspective, prescription drugs (linaclotide, prucalopride, and plecanatide) seemed less cost-effective than continued OTC laxatives (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio >$150,000/QALY gained). From a patient perspective, the cost-effective algorithm started with plecanatide, followed by choosing between prucalopride and linaclotide starting at the 145-μg dose (favoring prucalopride among patients whose disease affects their work productivity). The patient perspective was driven by drug tolerability and treatment effects on quality of life. DISCUSSION: Addressing costs at a policy level has the potential to enable patients and clinicians to move from navigating barriers in treatment access toward truly optimizing treatment choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2118-2127
Number of pages10
JournalThe American journal of gastroenterology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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