, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 191–199 | Cite as

Choice of NSAID and Management Strategy in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

The Impact on Costs and Outcomes in the UK
  • Chris J. McCabeEmail author
  • Ron L. Akehurst
  • Jeff Kirsch
  • Malcolm Whitfield
  • Martin Backhouse
  • Anthony D. Woolf
  • David L. Scott
  • Paul Emery
  • Ian Haslock
Original Research Article Evaluation of NSAID Therapies in OA/RA



Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are an effective therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, they are associated with significant adverse effects, the management of which imposes additional costs on the healthcare system. Prescribing NSAIDs which have a lower risk of major adverse effects as the first-line NSAID for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis may be expected to lead to an improvement in clinical outcomes and reduce overall treatment costs. This analysis examines data from a published randomised controlled trial of 5 NSAIDs to explore these hypotheses.

Design and Setting:

Data from a clinical trial comparing 5 NSAIDs were combined with published cost data to construct 2 clinical decision models, reflecting alternative approaches to the management of major and minor adverse effects in the UK.


The 5 NSAIDs evaluated in the analysis were nabumetone, diclofenac, ibuprofen, piroxicam and naproxen, although only the results for ibuprofen and nabumetone are reported.

Main outcome measures and results:

The total cost of care per patient receiving nabumetone was estimated to be between 25 pounds sterling (£) and £41 more expensive than ibuprofen. In a hypothetical cohort of 100 000 patients, there were between 690 and 821 more major adverse effects using ibuprofen than nabumetone. The cost per life-year gained (LYG) from using nabumetone rather than ibuprofen ranged between £1880 and £2517 (1995 values), depending upon the management of adverse effects.


These results indicate that: (i) prescribing the newer, currently more expensive, NSAIDs will not necessarily lead to cost savings; (ii) the management of adverse effects can have a significant impact on costs; and (iii) the additional cost may be justifiable in terms of the mortality and morbidity gains associated with the new lower-risk NSAIDs.


Adis International Limited Ibuprofen Naproxen Piroxicam Major Adverse Effect 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris J. McCabe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ron L. Akehurst
    • 1
  • Jeff Kirsch
    • 2
  • Malcolm Whitfield
    • 1
  • Martin Backhouse
    • 3
  • Anthony D. Woolf
    • 4
  • David L. Scott
    • 5
  • Paul Emery
    • 6
  • Ian Haslock
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)University of SheffieldSheffieldEngland
  2. 2.SmithKline Beecham UK Ltd.Welwyn Garden CityEngland
  3. 3.Novartis Pharma Inc.BasleSwitzerland
  4. 4.Royal Cornwall HospitalTruroEngland
  5. 5.Kings College HospitalLondonEngland
  6. 6.Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Research UnitUniversity of LeedsLeedsEngland
  7. 7.Cleveland General HospitalMiddlesboroughEngland

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