Objective: To compare the intensive care unit costs and determine factors influencing these costs in mechanically ventilated patients randomized to dexmedetomidine or midazolam by continuous infusion.
Design: Cost minimization analysis of a double-blind, multicenter clinical trial randomizing patients 2:1 to receive dexmedetomidine or midazolam from the institutional perspective.
Setting: Sixty-eight intensive care units in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Argentina.
Patients: A total of 366 intubated intensive care unit patients anticipated to require sedation for >24 hrs.
Measurements and Main Results: Intensive care unit resource use was compared within the two treatment arms, using the U.S. representative costs for these resources. The analyses characterized patient costs from start of study drug until intensive care unit discharge including costs associated with the intensive care unit stay, costs during mechanical ventilation, study drug acquisition cost, and costs of treating adverse drug reactions probably or possibly related to study drugs. Blinded to treatment group, costs were calculated using Medicare reimbursement schedules, average IMS drug costs, expert opinion, and peer-reviewed literature. Censored lengths of intensive care unit stay and mechanical ventilation were imputed, using a nonparametric adjustment algorithm. Crude and multivariate median regressions were performed to relate intensive care unit cost and treatment. Including drug acquisition cost, sedation with dexmedetomidine was associated with a median total intensive care unit cost savings of $9679 (confidence interval, $2314–$17,045) compared with midazolam. The primary cost drivers were reduced costs of intensive care unit stay (median savings, $6584, 95% confidence interval, $727–$12,440) and reduced costs of mechanical ventilation (median savings, $2958, 95% confidence interval, $698–$5219).
Conclusions: Continuous sedation with dexmedetomidine results in significantly lower total intensive care unit costs compared with midazolam infusion for intensive care unit sedation, primarily due to decreased intensive care unit stay costs and reduced mechanical ventilation costs.