Background Treatment and management of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) results in a high cost to the Health system such as the Spanish Health System. During the realization of clinical trials (CT) the sponsor is the one that pays for the direct healthcare costs of the patients, which leads to savings to the National Health System (NHS).
Objectives To estimate the economic impact of conducting clinical trials (CT) for the NHS in terms of avoided costs.
Methods A retrospective observational study was conducted using information from the clinical trials performed at the Clinical Research Rheumatology Department in the HUP la Fe from 2011 to 2015. Also a Cost-analysis was performed according Health System perspective. We calculated the length of stay in the CT in weeks for each patient included with RA diagnosis. Afterwards, we also calculated the total number of weeks of treatment for the total number of patients. In order to evaluate the economic impact in terms of avoided costs, economic evaluation included direct healthcare costs (rheumatologist visits, nurse care, laboratory tests and pharmacological treatment), and it was compared to the cost of the best alternative treatment in the market.
Results A total of 35 CT were analyzed in this period, 14 of them focused on RA. Two observational studies and one CT (premature closure by the sponsor) were discarded. Therefore, 11 were considered in this study and a total of 76 patients with RA were analysed which add together 2609 weeks of treatment. This is approximately equivalent to treating 50 RA patients with biological therapy during one year. Evaluating the health savings that biological treatment would have cost during the 2609 weeks, we obtain a total amount of 699.176,88 €. This represents an annual saving of 139.835€ over the 5 years analyzed.
Conclusions Our Clinical Research Unit managed to save a total amount of 13.935,30 € per patient in CT per year. Clinical Research Units should be considered as an efficient tool to the NHS.
Disclosure of Interest None declared