Fenfluramine for Treating Dravet Syndrome: An Evidence Review Group Perspective of a NICE Single Technology Appraisal

B. Wijnen, W. Witlox*, R. Wolff, D. Fayter, B. Ramaekers, T. Otten, S. Ryder, P. Posadzki, G. Worthy, L. Stirk, N. Armstrong, J. Kleijnen, M. Joore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Fenfluramine, tradename Fintepla ®, was appraised within the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) single technology appraisal (STA) process as Technology Appraisal 808. Within the STA process, the company (Zogenix International) provided NICE with a written submission and a mathematical health economic model, summarising the company’s estimates of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of fenfluramine for patients with Dravet syndrome (DS). This company submission (CS) was reviewed by an evidence review group (ERG) independent of NICE. The ERG, Kleijnen Systematic Reviews in collaboration with Maastricht University Medical Centre, produced an ERG report. This paper presents a summary of the ERG report and the development of the NICE guidance. The CS included a systematic review of the evidence for fenfluramine. From this review the company identified and presented evidence from two randomised trials (Study 1 and Study 1504), an open-label extension study (Study 1503) and ‘real world evidence’ from a prospective and retrospective study. Both randomised trials were conducted in patients up to 18 years of age with DS, whose seizures were incompletely controlled with previous anti-epileptic drugs. A Bayesian network meta-analysis was performed to compare fenfluramine with cannabidiol plus clobazam. There was no evidence of a difference between any doses of fenfluramine and cannabidiol in the mean convulsive seizure frequency (CSF) rate during treatment. However, fenfluramine increased the number of patients achieving ≥ 50% reduction in CSF frequency from baseline compared to cannabidiol. The company used an individual-patient state-transition model (R version 3.5.2) to model cost-effectiveness of fenfluramine. The CSF and convulsive seizure-free days were estimated using patient-level data from the placebo arm of the fenfluramine registration studies. Subsequently, a treatment effect of either fenfluramine or cannabidiol was applied. Utility values for the economic model were obtained by mapping Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory data from the registration studies to EuroQol-5D-3L Youth (EQ-5D-Y-3L). The company included caregiver utilities in their base-case, as the severe needs of patients with DS have a major impact on parents and caregivers. There were several key issues. First, the company included caregiver utilities in the model in a way that when patients in the economic model died, the corresponding caregiver utility was also set to zero. Second, the model was built in R statistical software, resulting in transparency issues. Third, the company assumed the same percentage reduction for convulsive seizure days as was estimated for CSF. Fourth, during the final appraisal committee meeting, influential changes were made to the model that were not in line with the ERG’s preferences (but were accepted by the appraisal committee). The company’s revised and final incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER) in line with committee preferences resulted in fenfluramine dominating cannabidiol. Fenfluramine was recommended as an add-on to other antiepileptic medicines for treating seizures associated with DS in people aged 2 years and older in the National Health Service (NHS).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Early online date1 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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