Comparing Cost-Effectiveness Results for a Vaccine Across Different Countries Worldwide: What Can We Learn?
Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) using country-specific thresholds tied to gross domestic product (GDP) might not be appropriate in countries with low healthcare investment and a high disease burden as a consequence. Using data from previously published CEA of rotavirus vaccination across nine countries worldwide, we calculated the cost neutral price (Pn) for the new intervention that reflects the price resulting in no net increase in health care costs compared with the current situation, and the maximum price (Pm) obtained with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) at the threshold value of 1 x GDP/capita. In countries with low GDP/capita, the paradoxical finding for rotavirus vaccination is that the Pm is much higher than in countries with a high GDP/capita. On the other hand, the Pn for the low GDP/capita countries is much lower than for high GDP/capita countries because of the low investment in health care. In countries with low healthcare investment and a high disease burden, the difference between the Pn and Pm for rotavirus vaccine which is the price range within which the ICER is below the World Health Organization (WHO) threshold value, is large. One reason could be that the WHO threshold value may not properly account for the local opportunity cost of health care expenditures. Therefore, either alternative threshold values should be selected or alternative economic assessment tools should be considered, such as budget optimisation or return on investment, if we want to communicate about real economic value of new vaccines in those countries