First model to assess cost-effectiveness of novel hearing treatments published

UCL and UCLH researchers have published the first health economic model able to identify cost-effective innovative hearing loss treatments that can be adopted into hearing care.

The cost-effectiveness model – built by Dr Rishi Mandavia and colleagues at the UCL Ear Institute’s evidENT team – will ensure research efforts and investments are directed at innovations that will benefit as many people with hearing loss as possible.

The model can be used by industry and decision makers to assess the maximum price point of a new therapy at different levels of effectiveness, and the minimum effectiveness required at each price point to be cost-effective.

The work is one of many UCLH BRC-supported projects contributing to the work of the Lancet Commission on Global Hearing Loss. Prof Anne Schilder – who is director of the BRC Deafness and Hearing Problems theme and who oversaw development of the model – is one of the Lancet Commissioners.

For the paper published in Otology and Neurotology, researchers applied the model to novel therapeutics for idiopathic (of no known cause) sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL). Up to around two-thirds of patients fail to recover from this condition.

They found that, compared with the current NHS standard of care for ISSNHL – which mainly involves steroid treatment, use of a restorative novel therapeutic could be cost-effective and of greater benefit to patients.

Novel therapeutics include drug, gene and cell-based approaches, with many new therapies expected in the next 5-10 years, meaning it will be important to be able to assess which are most likely to be cost-effective.

Dr Mandavia, who works closely with health economists at the Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen, said: “With a growing number of hearing therapeutics on the horizon, our findings will help investors, policy makers, regulators, and guideline developers decide which therapeutics represent value for money and are worth commissioning.”

Prof Schilder said: “Overall, this research will increase the likelihood of developing hearing therapeutics that can be adopted into the UK healthcare system and therefore used by patients. It is one of many projects at our UCLH BRC aiming to improve treatment of hearing loss and will help contribute to the goals of the Lancet Commission on Global Hearing Loss.”