BACKGROUND: Ulcerative colitis is a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory condition of the large intestine and rectum. Several targeted immune modulators (TIMs) have demonstrated effectiveness for the treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis and are approved by the FDA. Patients may try multiple TIMs, and currently there are no biomarkers or prognostic factors to guide choice of treatment sequence. In 2020, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) conducted a review of TIMs for the treatment of ulcerative colitis as individual agents relative to conventional treatment but did not address the relative ranking of various treatment sequences to each other.

OBJECTIVE: To extend the ICER framework to identify the optimal treatment sequence as informed by metrics such as maximizing incremental net health benefit (NHB), minimizing incremental total cost, or maximizing incremental quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs).

METHODS: The model was developed asa Markov model with 8-week cycles over a lifetime time horizon from a US payer perspective, including only direct health care costs. Health states consisted of active moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, clinical response without achieving remission, clinical remission, and death. Efficacy of TIMs were informed by the ICER-conducted network meta-analysis. Up to 3 treatments were modeled in a sequence that consisted of 2 different TIMs followed by conventional treatment. Sequences were ranked according to each objective. NHB was calculated using a threshold of $150,000 per QALY gained. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA) was undertaken to estimate the probability of
each sequence having the highest NHB rank under each objective.

RESULTS: 21 possible sequences were evaluated in the base case. Two attempts at conventional treatment represented the lowest cost option and, while yielding the fewest QALYs, resulted in the highest NHB. None of the sequences had an incremental cost per QALY below $150,000 relative to 2 attempts with conventional treatment, so the resulting NHB was negative for all sequences. The sequence with the highest NHB was infliximab-dyyb followed by tofacitinib (−0.116). This regimen also had the lowest incremental costs ($37,266). For orally and subcutaneously administered TIMs, the sequence of golimumabtofacitinib had the highest NHB (−0.344). Ustekinumab-vedolizumab was the top-ranked sequence as measured by QALY maximization (0.172 incremental QALYs) but also had the highest total incremental cost ($166,094). Results of the PSA were consistent with deterministic rankings for the top-ranking sequences but also showed that the top 2 or 3 regimens were often close together.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the results of this analysis, the optimal sequence of TIMs as measured by NHB and cost minimization was infliximab or biosimilars as first-line treatment, then moving to tofacitinib, adalimumab, or vedolizumab. Sequences that generated the most QALYs began with ustekinumab, followed by vedolizumab, tofacitinib, and adalimumab.