The clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of topotecan for small cell lung cancer: a systematic review and economic evaluation.

Authors: Loveman E, Jones J, Hartwell D, Bird A, Harris P, Welch K, Clegg A

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 14 Issue: 19

Publication date: April 2010



Loveman E, Jones J, Hartwell D, Bird A, Harris P, Welch K, et al.The clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of topotecan for small cell lung cancer: a systematic review and economic evaluation.. Health Technol Assess 2010;14(19)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (5.0 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.



To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of topotecan as second-line treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Data sources

Bibliographic databases were searched from 1990 to February 2009, including the Cochrane library, MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), PREMEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations. Bibliographies of related papers were assessed and experts were contacted to identify additional references and the manufacturer's submission to NICE was also searched.

Review methods

Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts for eligibility. Inclusion criteria were applied to the full text of retrieved papers using a standard form. For the clinical effectiveness review, the studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), which included adult participants with relapsed SCLC who responded to first-line treatment and for whom re-treatment with first-line therapy was inappropriate. The treatment was topotecan (oral or intravenous, i.v.) compared with one another, best supportive care (BSC) or other chemotherapy regimens. Outcomes included measures of response or disease progression and measures of survival. For the cost-effectiveness review studies were eligible for inclusion if they reported cost-effectiveness, cost-utility, cost-benefit or cost-consequence analyses. Data extraction and quality assessment of included studies was undertaken by one reviewer and checked by a second. Studies were synthesised through a narrative review with full tabulation of results. An independent economic model estimated the cost-effectiveness of topotecan (oral or i.v.) compared with BSC. The model used survival analysis methods to derive estimates of mean survival for patients treated with topotecan or receiving BSC alone. These were combined with quality of life (QoL) weights to derive estimates of mean quality-adjusted life expectancy for patients receiving BSC alone or topotecan plus BSC. Categories of costs included in the model included drug use, chemotherapy administration and on-treatment monitoring, management of adverse events, monitoring for disease progression and palliative care.


A total of 434 references were identified of which five were included in the clinical effectiveness review. In these trials topotecan was compared with BSC, CAV [cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and vincristine] or amrubicin, or oral topotecan was compared with i.v. topotecan. No economic evaluations were identified. There were no statistically significant differences between groups when i.v. topotecan was compared with either CAV or oral topotecan for overall response rate (ORR). Response rate was significantly better in participants receiving i.v. amrubicin than in those receiving a low dose of i.v. topotecan (38% versus 13%, respectively, p = 0.039). There was a statistically significant benefit in favour of oral topotecan compared with BSC (HR 0.61, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.87, p = 0.01). Drug acquisition costs for four cycles of treatment were estimated at 2550 pounds for oral topotecan and 5979 pounds for i.v. topotecan. Non-drug treatment costs accounted for an additional 1097 pounds for oral topotecan and 4289 pounds for i.v. topotecan. Total costs for the modelled time horizon of 5 years were 4854 pounds for BSC, 11,048 pounds for oral topotecan and between 16,914 pounds and 17,369 pounds for i.v. topotecan (depending on assumptions regarding time progression). Life expectancy was 0.4735, 0.7984 and 0.7784 years for BSC, oral topotecan and i.v. topotecan respectively. Total quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) were 0.2247 and 0.4077, for BSC and oral topotecan respectively, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of 33,851 pounds per QALY gained. Total QALYs for i.v. topotecan were between 0.3875 and 0.4157 (depending on assumptions regarding time progression) resulting in an ICER between 74,074 pounds and 65,507 pounds per QALY gained.


Topotecan appeared to be better than BSC alone in terms of improved survival, and was as effective as CAV and less favourable than i.v. amrubicin in terms of response. Oral topotecan and i.v. topotecan were similar in efficacy. Topotecan offers additional benefit over BSC, but at increased cost. ICERs for i.v. topotecan, compared with BSC, were high and suggest that it is unlikely to be a cost-effective option. The ICER for oral topotecan is at the upper extreme of the range conventionally regarded as cost-effective from an NHS decision-making perspective. Further research into the QoL of patients with relapsed SCLC could identify the impacts of disease progression and treatment response.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.