Corneal cross-linking versus conventional management for keratoconus: a lifetime economic model


To assess the cost-effectiveness of corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) versus no CXL for keratoconus in the United States (US).


A discrete-event microsimulation was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of corneal cross-linking (CXL, Photrexa + KXL combination product) versus no CXL for patients with keratoconus. The lifetime model was conducted from a US payor perspective. The source for CXL efficacy and safety data was a 12-month randomized, open-label, sham-controlled, multi-center, pivotal trial comparing CXL versus no CXL. Other inputs were sourced from the literature. The primary outcome was the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year gained. Costs (2019 USD) and effects were discounted 3% annually. The impacts of underlying uncertainty were evaluated by scenario, univariate, and probabilistic analyses.


Starting at a mean baseline age of 31 years and considering a mixed population consisting of 80% slow-progressors and 20% fast-progressors, the CXL group was 25.9% less likely to undergo penetrating keratoplasty (PK) and spent 27.9 fewer years in advanced disease stages. CXL was dominant with lower total direct medical costs (-$8,677; $30,994 versus $39,671) and more QALYs (1.88; 21.80 versus 19.93) compared to no CXL. Considering the impact of reduced productivity loss in an exploratory scenario, CXL was associated with a lifetime cost-savings of $43,759 per patient. CXL was cost-effective within 2 years and cost-saving within 4.5 years.


Limitations include those that are common to similar pharmacoeconomic models that rely on disparate sources for inputs and extrapolation on short-term outcomes to a long-term analytical horizon.


Keratoconus is a progressive and life-altering disease with substantial clinical, economic, and humanistic consequences. The economic value of cross-linking is maximized when applied earlier in the disease process and/or younger age, and extends to improved work productivity, out-of-pocket costs, and quality of life.

AuthorsRL Lindstrom, JP Berdahl, ED Donnefeld, V Thompson, D Kratochvil, C Wong, H Falvey, G Lytle, MF Botteman, JA Carter
JournalJournal of medical economics
Therapeutic AreaOphthalmology
Service AreaModeling & Meta-Analysis
LinkClick Here

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