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BACKGROUND: Recent asthma guidelines, such as the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), recommend in adult patients as-needed inhaled corticosteroids (ICS)-formoterol as an alternative to maintenance ICS in mild to moderate persistent asthma. The introduction of these recommendations concerns whether using as-needed budesonide-formoterol would be more cost-effective than to maintenance ICS. This study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of as-needed combination low-dose budesonide-formoterol compared to short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) reliever therapy in patients with mild asthma. METHODS: A probabilistic Markov model was created to estimate the cost and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) of patients with mild asthma in Colombia. Total costs and QALYs of low-dose budesonide-formoterol compared to short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) were calculated over a lifetime horizon. Multiple sensitivity analyses were conducted. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated at a willingness-to-pay value of $19,000. RESULTS: The model suggests a potential gain of 0.37 QALYs and per patient per year on as-needed ICS-formoterol and a reduction in the discounted cost per person-year, of as-needed ICS-formoterol to maintenance ICS, of US$40. This position of dominance of as-needed ICS-formoterol negates the need to calculate an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. In the deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analysis, our base-case results were robust to variations in all assumptions and parameters. CONCLUSION: Low-dose budesonide-formoterol as a reliever was cost-effective when added to usual care in patients with mild asthma. Our study provides evidence that should be used by decision-makers to improve clinical practice guidelines and should be replicated to validate their results in other middle-income countries.

Original publication





BMC Pulm Med

Publication Date





Budesonide-formoterol, Cost-effectiveness analysis, Decision analysis, Markov model, Uncontrolled asthma, Adrenal Cortex Hormones, Anti-Asthmatic Agents, Asthma, Budesonide, Formoterol Fumarate Drug Combination, Colombia, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Humans, Markov Chains, Models, Econometric, Nebulizers and Vaporizers, Quality-Adjusted Life Years