Cost-effectiveness of longer-term versus shorter-term provision of antibiotics in patients with persistent symptoms attributed to Lyme disease

Anneleen Berende*, Lisette Nieuwenhuis, Hadewych J. M. ter Hofstede, Fidel J. Vos, Michiel L. Vogelaar, Mirjam Tromp, Henriet van Middendorp, A. Rogier T. Donders, Andrea W. M. Evers, Bart Jan Kullberg, Eddy M. M. Adang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background The treatment of persistent symptoms attributed to Lyme disease remains controversial. Recently, the PLEASE study did not demonstrate any additional clinical benefit of longer term versus shorter-term antibiotic treatment. However, the economic impact of the antibiotic strategies has not been investigated. Methods This prospective economic evaluation, adhering a societal perspective, was performed alongside the PLEASE study, a multicenter, placebo-controlled, double-blind 1:1:1 randomized clinical trial in which all patients received open-label intravenous ceftriaxone for two weeks before the 12-week randomized blinded oral antibiotic regimen (doxycycline, clarithromycin plus hydroxychloroquine, or placebo). Between 2010 and 2013, patients (n = 271) with borreliosis-attributed persistent symptoms were enrolled and followed for one year. Main outcomes were costs, quality-adjusted life years, and incremental net monetary benefit of longer-term versus shorter-term antibiotic therapy. Results Mean quality-adjusted life years (95% CI) were not significantly different (p = 0.96): 0.82 (0.77-0.88) for ceftriaxone/doxycycline (n = 82), 0.81 (0.76-0.88) for ceftriaxone/clarithromycin-hydroxychloroquine (n = 93), and 0.81 (0.76-0.86) for ceftriaxone/placebo (n = 96). Total societal costs per patient (95% CI) were not significantly different either (p = 0.35): (sic)11,995 ((sic)8,823- 15,670) for ceftriaxone/doxycycline, (sic)12,202 ((sic)9,572- 15,253) for ceftriaxone/clarithromycin-hydroxychloroquine, and (sic)15,249 ((sic)11,294- 19,781) for ceftriaxone/ placebo. Incremental net monetary benefit (95% CI) for ceftriaxone/doxycycline compared to ceftriaxone/placebo varied from (sic)3,317 (-(sic) 2,199- 8,998) to (sic)4,285 (-(sic) 6,085-(sic)14,524) over the willingness-to-pay range, and that of ceftriaxone/clarithromycin-hydroxychloroquine compared to ceftriaxone/placebo from (sic)3,098 (-(sic)888-(sic)7,172) to (sic)3,710 (-(sic)4,254-(sic)11,651). For every willingness-to-pay threshold, the incremental net monetary benefits did not significantly differ from zero. Conclusion The longer-term treatments were similar with regard to costs, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness compared to shorter-term treatment in patients with borreliosis-attributed persistent symptoms after one year of follow-up. Given the results of this study, and taking into account the external costs associated with antibiotic resistance, the shorter-term treatment is the antibiotic regimen of first choice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0195260
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2018



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