Emerging Therapies for COVID-19: The Value of Information From More Clinical Trials [Editor's Choice]



The COVID-19 pandemic necessitates time-sensitive policy and implementation decisions regarding new therapies in the face of uncertainty. This study aimed to quantify consequences of approving therapies or pursuing further research: immediate approval, use only in research, approval with research (eg, emergency use authorization), or reject.


Using a cohort state-transition model for hospitalized patients with COVID-19, we estimated quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and costs associated with the following interventions: hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, casirivimab-imdevimab, dexamethasone, baricitinib-remdesivir, tocilizumab, lopinavir-ritonavir, interferon beta-1a, and usual care. We used the model outcomes to conduct cost-effectiveness and value of information analyses from a US healthcare perspective and a lifetime horizon.


Assuming a $100 000-per-QALY willingness-to-pay threshold, only remdesivir, casirivimab-imdevimab, dexamethasone, baricitinib-remdesivir, and tocilizumab were (cost-) effective (incremental net health benefit 0.252, 0.164, 0.545, 0.668, and 0.524 QALYs and incremental net monetary benefit $25 249, $16 375, $54 526, $66 826, and $52 378). Our value of information analyses suggest that most value can be obtained if these 5 therapies are approved for immediate use rather than requiring additional randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (net value $20.6 billion, $13.4 billion, $7.4 billion, $54.6 billion, and $7.1 billion), hydroxychloroquine (net value $198 million) is only used in further RCTs if seeking to demonstrate decremental cost-effectiveness and otherwise rejected, and interferon beta-1a and lopinavir-ritonavir are rejected (ie, neither approved nor additional RCTs).


Estimating the real-time value of collecting additional evidence during the pandemic can inform policy makers and clinicians about the optimal moment to implement therapies and whether to perform further research.


Stijntje W. Dijk Eline M. Krijkamp Natalia Kunst Cary P. Gross John B. Wong M.G. Myriam Hunink

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