Cost-benefit of stockpiling drugs for influenza pandemic Academic Article uri icon


  • We analyzed strategies for the use of stockpiled antiviral drugs in the context of a future influenza pandemic and estimated cost-benefit ratios. Current stockpiling of oseltamivir appears to be cost-saving to the economy under several treatment strategies, including therapeutic treatment of patients and postexposure prophylactic treatment of patients ’ close contacts. The widespread epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza that emerged in east Asia continues today. As the epidemic grows, so does the probability that this virulent virus will acquire genetic traits for increased personto-person transmissibility, potentially setting the stage for the next global influenza pandemic (1). The next pandemic will be associated with major adverse health and economic outcomes, with estimated costs reaching US$166 billion in the United States alone (2). The World Health Organization recently encouraged health authorities to consider stockpiling antiviral drugs in anticipation of a pandemic (3). However, the cost-benefit of stockpiling has yet to be assessed, and the optimal strategy for antiviral use is still under debate. The Israeli Ministry of Health appointed a working group to address national preparation for an influenza pandemic. We set out to identify strategies for the use of the antiviral drug oseltamivir in the containment of a pandemic and to construct a mathematical model to appraise the cost and benefit of each strategy in terms of health-related and economic outcomes. The Study We estimated the health-related impact of pandemic influenza on the Israeli population, by using rates (illness, physician visits, hospitalizations, and deaths) derived from previous pandemics, according to Meltzer et al. (2). Costs related to these outcomes were calculated from data provided by a major Israeli healthcare organization (4) and by

publication date

  • January 1, 2005