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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


ANTONANZAS, F.  and  PORTILLO, F.. Economic evaluation of pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation. Gac Sanit [online]. 2003, vol.17, n.5, pp. 393-403. ISSN 0213-9111.

Introduction: Public policies for smoking cessation are mainly based on advice from the primary care physician and group therapy. Several pharmacological treatments to reduce tobacco addiction are currently available. One of these treatments, bupropion, has remarkable efficacy (30% over 1 year) compared with nicotine replacement therapies (chewing gum 8%, patches 17% over 1 year). The objective of this study was to assess the efficiency of three smoking cessation strategies based on pharmacotherapies in Spain. Material and methods: The current situation of methods for smoking cessation in Spain includes a mixture of primary care physician advice, group therapy and willpower, combined with the use of drugs in a small proportion of individuals. This situation was compared with three scenarios in which the use of the available pharmacotherapies was increased (by up to 10%) for 1 year. A cost-effectiveness evaluation was used to calculate the cost per death prevented and per year of life saved in each scenario. The analysis used a time horizon of 20 years and was based on an adaptation of the HECOS model, sponsored by WHO-Euro, which enables comparison of distinct pharmacotherapy interventions. Epidemiological data were based on the National Health Survey (1997) and the National Institute of Statistics (1999). Results: The cost-effectiveness ratio of bupropion at 5 years was 70,939 euros per death prevented and was 37,305 euros per year of life saved. When the time horizon was increased to 20 years, these figures became net savings of 28,166 and 3,265 euros, respectively. The cost-effectiveness ratios for both nicotine gums and patches were higher than that for bupropion: 171,834 euros per death prevented at 5 years and 90,362 euros per year of life saved for patches and 513,004 euros per death prevented and 269,772 euros per year of life saved at 5 years. Furthermore, bupropion treatment for 1 year would prevent a greater number of deaths than the alternative strategies (approximately 3,000 deaths in a time horizon of 20 years) due to the decrease in the number of smokers. Conclusions: The cost of some tobacco cessation methods, such as primary care physician advice and group therapy, is low but their efficacy is also low. New drug treatments increase costs and also achieve higher efficacy rates. When assessing interventions and their costs economic evaluation shows that in the long run greater use of bupropion generates net savings in tobacco-related health costs.

Keywords : Smoking cessation pharmacotherapies; Cost-effectiveness; Health promotion.

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