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.