Introduction An estimated 69 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur each year worldwide, with most in low-income and middle-income countries. The CRASH-3 randomised trial found that intravenous administration of tranexamic acid within 3 hours of injury reduces head injury deaths in patients sustaining a mild or moderate TBI. We examined the cost-effectiveness of tranexamic acid treatment for TBI.
Methods A Markov decision model was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of treatment with and without tranexamic acid, in addition to current practice. We modelled the decision in the UK and Pakistan from a health service perspective, over a lifetime time horizon. We used data from the CRASH-3 trial for the risk of death during the trial period (28 days) and patient quality of life, and data from the literature to estimate costs and long-term outcomes post-TBI. We present outcomes as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and 2018 costs in pounds for the UK, and US dollars for Pakistan. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) per QALY gained were estimated, and compared with country specific cost-effective thresholds. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were also performed.
Results Tranexamic acid was highly cost-effective for patients with mild TBI and intracranial bleeding or patients with moderate TBI, at £4288 per QALY in the UK, and US$24 per QALY in Pakistan. Tranexamic acid was 99% and 98% cost-effective at the cost-effectiveness thresholds for the UK and Pakistan, respectively, and remained cost-effective across all deterministic sensitivity analyses. Tranexamic acid was even more cost-effective with earlier treatment administration. The cost-effectiveness for those with severe TBI was uncertain.
Conclusion Early administration of tranexamic acid is highly cost-effective for patients with mild or moderate TBI in the UK and Pakistan, relative to the cost-effectiveness thresholds used. The estimated ICERs suggest treatment is likely to be cost-effective across all income settings globally.