Cost-effectiveness of inhaled steroids in asthma: Impact of effect on bone mineral density

Anne L. Fuhlbrigge, Seung Jin Bae, Scott T. Weiss, Karen M. Kuntz, A. David Paltiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: The effects of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) preparations on bone health have been debated. Multiple analyses have been published examining the question, with mixed results. Objectives: We examined how assumptions about the effect of ICS on bone mineral density (BMD) influence the cost-effectiveness of ICS in asthma. Methods: We developed a mathematical simulation model to estimate clinical outcomes and costs for a cohort with mild/moderate asthma. The analysis conformed to reference case recommendations of the US Panel on Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine. Sensitivity analysis evaluated the stability of our results to uncertainty in treatment duration, age at treatment, and ICS dose. Results: Assuming a dose of 200 μg twice per day of ICS, a literature-based average effect of ICS on BMD and a 10-year time horizon, we observed a minimal increase in the costs attributed to hip fracture and incremental cost effectiveness ratio of $26,000 per quality-adjusted life-year and $14.00 per symptom-free day gained. Over an extended the time horizon (lifetime), the incremental cost effectiveness ratio increased to $42,000/quality-adjusted life-year. Only under a scenario of high-dose ICS, a lifetime horizon, and a large effect of ICS on BMD did the potential impact of ICS on BMD dramatically affect the economic attractiveness of therapy. Conclusion: To minimize any potential impact, use of the lowest effective dose of ICS and measures to target and intervene in high-risk individuals are warranted. However, ICS therapy in mild/moderate asthma compares favorably with commonly accepted interventions over a wide range of assumptions regarding this treatment and its effects on BMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-366
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Asthma
  • Bone density
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Drug toxicity
  • Hip fracture
  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Markov models
  • Osteoporosis
  • Treatment outcome


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