Lifetime implications and cost-effectiveness of using finasteride to prevent prostate cancer

Steven B. Zeliadt, Ruth D. Etzioni, David F. Penson, Ian M. Thompson, Scott D. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: We estimate the lifetime implications of daily treatment with finasteride following the results of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT). In this trial, prostate cancer prevalence was reduced by 25%; however, an increase in the number of high-grade tumors among the treatment group necessitates the long-term projection of the likely benefits and costs. METHODS: We use a Markov decision analysis model with data from the trial, the SEER program, and published literature. The model measures the cost per life-year and cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained for a cohort of men age 55 years who initiate preventive treatment with finasteride. RESULTS: Finasteride is associated with a gain of 6 life-years per 1000 men treated at an incremental cost of $1 660 000 per life-year gained. The quality-adjusted analysis results in 46 QALYs gained per 1000 men treated at an incremental cost of $200 000 per QALY gained, due primarily to the favorable effects of finasteride on benign prostatic hyperplasia. Under the assumption that the increase in high-grade tumors observed among finasteride treated men is a pathologic artifact, the incremental costs are $290 000 per life-year gained and $130 000 per QALY gained. CONCLUSIONS: The cost burden associated with finasteride is substantial, while its survival benefit is small and only realized many years after initiating treatment. To achieve an incremental cost below $100 000 per QALY gained, the price of finasteride must be reduced by 50% from its current average wholesale price and finasteride must be shown to prevent high-grade as well as low-grade disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-857
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer prevention
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Finasteride
  • Prostate carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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