Cost-effectiveness of pembrolizumab versus docetaxel for the treatment of previously treated PD-L1 positive advanced NSCLC patients in the United States

Min Huang, Yanyan Lou, James Pellissier, Thomas Burke, Frank Xiaoqing Liu, Ruifeng Xu, Vamsidhar Velcheti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objectives: This analysis aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of pembrolizumab compared with docetaxel in patients with previously treated advanced non-squamous cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with PD-L1 positive tumors (total proportion score [TPS] ≥ 50%). The analysis was conducted from a US third-party payer perspective. Methods: A partitioned-survival model was developed using data from patients from the KEYNOTE 010 clinical trial. The model used Kaplan-Meier (KM) estimates of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) from the trial for patients treated with either pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg or docetaxel 75 mg/m2 with extrapolation based on fitted parametric functions and long-term registry data. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were derived based on EQ-5D data from KEYNOTE 010 using a time to death approach. Costs of drug acquisition/administration, adverse event management, and clinical management of advanced NSCLC were included in the model. The base-case analysis used a time horizon of 20 years. Costs and health outcomes were discounted at a rate of 3% per year. A series of one-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to test the robustness of the results. Results: Base case results project for PD-L1 positive (TPS ≥50%) patients treated with pembrolizumab a mean survival of 2.25 years. For docetaxel, a mean survival time of 1.07 years was estimated. Expected QALYs were 1.71 and 0.76 for pembrolizumab and docetaxel, respectively. The incremental cost per QALY gained with pembrolizumab vs docetaxel is $168,619/QALY, which is cost-effective in the US using a threshold of 3-times GDP per capita. Sensitivity analyses showed the results to be robust over plausible values of the majority of inputs. Results were most sensitive to extrapolation of overall survival. Conclusions: Pembrolizumab improves survival, increases QALYs, and can be considered as a cost-effective option compared to docetaxel in PD-L1 positive (TPS ≥50%) pre-treated advanced NSCLC patients in the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medical Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Advanced NSCLC
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Docetaxel
  • PD-L1 positive
  • Pembrolizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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