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Evaluating Costs for Onychomycosis Treatments

A Practitioner’s Perspective

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  • 1 Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis. Mailing address: Dept 111 K VAMC, Dermatology, 1 Veterans Dr, Minneapolis, MN 55417.
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Onychomycosis is a common problem. The desired outcome of treatment for patients and clinicians is complete cure (negative culture and negative potassium hydroxide examination results plus a completely normal nail). This cost analysis sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of treatments for onychomycosis using complete cure as a unit of effectiveness. A simplified cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted using complete cure rates from randomized, blinded clinical trials involving at least 50 participants. Trials were identified by searching the literature, manually searching for review articles, and reviewing medication package inserts. For each trial that met the entry criteria, three levels of cost were used to calculate medication cost per complete cure: commercial price, average wholesale price, and Veterans Affairs pharmacy price. In addition, a computerized economic model was used to determine total cost per complete cure, including all medical costs. The most cost-effective treatments were those that involved terbinafine: pulse, continuous, or in combination with other agents. Itraconazole, griseofulvin, and fluconazole were less cost-effective. Ciclopirox nail lacquer was at least three times more expensive than all other agents when evaluating total costs per complete cure. Overall, the lowest cost per complete cure resulted from terbinafine treatment, with most evidence supporting 3 months of continuous therapy. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 96(1): 38–52, 2006)