OBJECTIVE: The objective of this review was to determine, from a systematic assessment of published data, the cost effectiveness of the neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medication oseltamivir in comparison with usual care (i.e. over-the-counter medication such as analgesics and antipyretics for symptomatic relief) for the treatment of influenza. How the findings of each of the studies considered related to the methods used for each analysis and the assumptions made were specifically reviewed.
RESULTS: The online search found 80 individual articles, 66 of which did not meet the pre-defined screening criteria. The 14 studies remaining reported cost, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses for oseltamivir treatment in various groups: healthy adults and adolescents, children, elderly, and individuals at increased risk.
CONCLUSION: Despite the range of values assumed for key probabilities such as the diagnostic certainty of influenza among people presenting with influenza-like illness, and how much work time is lost due to illness in healthy adults, base-case analyses consistently showed oseltamivir treatment to be cost effective or even cost saving for the four population groups studied, a conclusion that is in-line with previous reviews on this topic. However, clarity was frequently lacking in the published data in terms of various model assumptions and results, particularly with regards to the exact distributions of the constituting elements of savings and of quality-adjusted life years gained.