There are conflicting views as to whether testing for biotinidase deficiency (BD) ought to be incorporated into universal newborn screening (NBS) programs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of adding BD to the panel of conditions currently screened under the national NBS program in Spain.
We used information from the regional NBS program for BD that has been in place in the Spanish region of Galicia since 1987. These data, along with other sources, were used to develop a cost-effectiveness decision model that compared lifetime costs and health outcomes of a national birth cohort of newborns with and without an early detection program. The analysis took the perspective of the Spanish National Health Service. Effectiveness was measured in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). We undertook extensive sensitivity analyses around the main model assumptions, including a probabilistic sensitivity analysis.
In the base case analysis, NBS for BD led to higher QALYs and higher health care costs, with an estimated incremental cost per QALY gained of $24 677. Lower costs per QALY gained were found when conservative assumptions were relaxed, yielding cost savings in some scenarios. The probability that BD screening was cost-effective was estimated to be >70% in the base case at a standard threshold value.
This study indicates that NBS for BD is likely to be a cost-effective use of resources.