Clinical and economic issues in the treatment of advanced breast cancer with bisphosphonates

Nicola Lucio Liberato, Monia Marchetti, Giovanni Barosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ideal palliative therapy for bone metastases would successfully reduce skeletal complications in several thousands of breast cancer patients. Second- and third-generation bisphosphonates are effective in reducing the overall skeletal complication rate and the time to first skeletal complication. Nevertheless, not enough evidence supports their benefit on quality of life. Furthermore, bisphosphonates are expensive (up to $US775 per month, 2002 value) and cost-effectiveness evaluations have been limited to pamidronate (pamidronic acid). In economic evaluations of pamidronate, resulting incremental dollar per quality-adjusted life year gained ranged from cost savings to $US108 000 per quality-adjusted life year. The data were quite sensitive to quality-of-life estimates and country-specific cost values. Because of the wide range of the cost-effectiveness ratio, it is uncertain whether the universal prescription of bisphosphonates in this setting represents an efficient use of healthcare resources. Probably, country- and drug-specific policies might increase the efficiency of this treatment. Further outcomes research is required to assess these agents more fully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-642
Number of pages12
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Pharmacology


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