BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) increases the risk of systemic thromboembolic events; therefore, anticoagulant treatment with vitamin K antagonists is widely prescribed. Recently, new oral anticoagulants (NOAs) directly inhibiting thrombin (dabigatran) or factor Xa (rivaroxaban and apixaban) demonstrated their non-inferiority with respect to warfarin in reducing the thromboembolic risk. The aim of this study was to estimate the cost effectiveness of NOAs in an Italian setting. METHODS: A Markov decision model including ten health states and death was developed, and a 3-month Markov cycle and lifetime horizon were adopted. Transition probabilities and quality of life were estimated from three randomized trials and from additional reports in the literature. Analysis was performed in the context of the Italian National Health System. First- and second-order sensitivity analyses were made to test the robustness of the results. The mean European cost of dabigatran (<euro>2.58/day) was assigned to each NOA. RESULTS: The incremental cost-utility ratio was below <euro>25,000/quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained for each NOA and each CHADS2 level, but differences among drugs were found. This result was sensitive to the time in (warfarin) therapeutic range and time horizon. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis suggests that NOAs are a cost-effective treatment for the prevention of stroke in patients with NVAF in the Italian healthcare setting.
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