Severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent and debilitating condition in the United States. and globally. Using pooled efficacy data from six phase 2 trials, therapy using 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) appeared cost-saving from a payer’s perspective. This study updates the cost-effectiveness analysis of this novel therapy using data from a new phase 3 trial, including the incremental cost-effectiveness of the more intensive phase 3 regimen compared with the shorter phase 2 regimen.
We adapted a previously-published Markov model to portray the costs and health benefits of providing MDMA-assisted therapy (MDMA-AT) to patients with chronic, severe, or extreme PTSD in a recent phase 3 trial, compared with standard care. Inputs were based on trial results and published literature. The trial treated 90 patients with a clinician administered PTSD scale (CAPS-5) total severity score of 35 or greater at baseline, and duration of PTSD symptoms of 6 months or longer. The primary outcome was assessed 8 weeks after the final experimental session. Patients received three 90-minute preparatory psychotherapy sessions, three 8-hour active MDMA or placebo sessions, and nine 90-minute integrative psychotherapy sessions. Our model calculates the per-patient cost of MDMA-AT, net all-cause medical costs, mortality, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). We reported results from the U.S. health care payer’s perspective for multiple analytic time horizons, (base-case is 30 years), and conducted extensive sensitivity analyses. Costs and QALYs were discounted by 3% annually. Costs were adjusted to 2020 U.S. dollars according to the medical component of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI).
MDMA-AT as conducted in the phase 3 trial costs $11,537 per patient. Compared to standard of care for 1,000 patients, MDMA-AT generates discounted net health care savings of $132.9 million over 30 years, accruing 4,856 QALYs, and averting 61.4 premature deaths. MDMA-AT breaks even on cost at 3.8 years while delivering 887 QALYs. A third MDMA session generates additional medical savings and health benefits compared with a two-session regimen. Hypothetically assuming no savings in health care costs, MDMA-AT has an ICER of $2,384 per QALY gained.
MDMA-AT provided to patients with severe or extreme chronic PTSD is cost-saving from a payer’s perspective, while delivering substantial clinical benefit.