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Background: Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) are the mainstay of anemia therapy. Continuous erythropoietin receptor activator (CERA) is a highly effective, long-acting ESA developed for once-monthly dosing. A multitude of clinical studies has evaluated the safety and efficiency of this treatment option for patients with renal anemia. In times of permanent financial pressure on health care systems, the cost-effectiveness of CERA should be of particular importance for payers and clinicians.
Objective: To critically analyze, from the nephrologists' point of view, the published literature focusing on the cost-effectiveness of CERA for anemia treatment.
Methods: The detailed literature search covered electronic databases including MEDLINE, PubMed, and Embase, as well as international conference abstract databases.
Results: Peer-reviewed literature analyzing the definite cost-effectiveness of CERA is scarce, and most of the available data originate from conference abstracts. Identified data are restricted to the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease. Although the majority of studies suggest a considerable cost advantage for CERA, the published literature cannot easily be compared. While time and motion studies clearly indicate that a switch to CERA could minimize health care staff time in dialysis units, the results of studies comparing direct costs are more ambivalent, potentially reflecting the differences between health care systems and variability between centers.
Conclusion: Analyzed data are predominantly insufficient; they miss clear evidence and have to thus be interpreted with great caution. In this day and age of financial restraints, results from well-designed, head-to-head studies with clearly defined endpoints have to prove whether CERA therapy can achieve cost savings without compromising anemia management.
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