Treatment with the Cypher sirolimus-coated stent, developed by Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis division, cost approximately $2,900 more per patient compared to the use of bare metal stents. The drug is designed to prevent restinosis, where a blood vessel cleared of an obstruction begins to close back up again. Even after factoring in other costs associated after one year, the drug-coated stent was still almost $300 more expensive to use.

But the authors suggest that when the quality of life benefits of avoiding repeat procedures and recurrent symptoms are factored in, the cost-effectiveness ratio for sirolimus-eluting stents was approximately $27,000 per quality-adjusted year of life gained – a value comparable to many other widely accepted medical treatments.

“Although our analysis suggested that (drug-coated) stents do not fully pay for themselves in the long-run, it is possible (they) will achieve true costs savings in the near future,” writes David J. Cohen, M.D., a cardiologist at BIDMC and the study’s senior author.