CINCINNATINew analyses led by the University of Cincinnati (UC) show that genetic testing used to guide initial dosing of the blood-thinner warfarin may not be cost-effective for typical patients with atrial fibrillation but may be for patients at higher risk for major bleeding.
This study is being published in the Jan. 20, 2009, edition of Annals of Internal Medicine.
Warfarin is commonly prescribed to prevent blood clotting, particularly for patients with atrial fibrillationa type of abnormal heart rhythm.
Mark Eckman, MD, professor of medicine at UC and lead investigator of the study, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed the labeling for warfarin in 2007, suggesting that clinicians consider genetic testing before initiating therapy.
"There are certain genes that are known to contribute to an increased sensitivity to warfarin," he says. "The idea behind genetic testingalso known as pharmacogenetic-guided dosing is to help guide the initial, and possibly lower, dose of warfarin for patients found to possess certain variants of the genes cytochrome P450 CYP2C9 and vitamin K epoxide reductase, or VKORC1. The hope is that more accurate dosing will translate into decreased major bleeds during the initiation phase of warfarin dosing, which is the first month or so."
Eckman says the study looked at whether the benefit of testing is worth the costs associated with it.
Researchers first performed an analysis combining the results of the only three clinical studies published to date to determine the degree to which pharmacogenetic-guided dosing decreases the risk of major bleeds when compared with standard induction of treatment with warfarin.
The team next constructed a model to estimate the cost-effectiveness of a genotype-guided dosing strategy.
While they found that genotype-guided dosing resulted in better outcomes, it was at a relatively high costover $170,000 per quali
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University of Cincinnati