Researchers compare costs of rTMS treatment with antidepressant medication, factoring in financial costs and quality of life.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an effective and non-invasive way to help people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), with long-term effects typically noticed in an average of 25 sessions and high efficacy when delivered together with Psychotherapy. Whilst health insurance providers in countries like The Netherlands and the United States offer reimbursement for the therapy, patients in most other countries need to consider intensive up-front costs of treatment, with therapy sessions required at least two times per week.
A recent study has now compared the overall cost of rTMS treatment with standard pharmacological interventions for the disorder (i.e. antidepressant medications), taking into consideration direct financial cost as well as “Quality Adjusted Life Years” (QALYs). Given current costs of treatment, the findings show that rTMS is more cost-effective over the life-span of adults with MDD, compared to antidepressant medication trials.
However, in many countries rTMS is usually only recommended for patients after having failed several antidepressant medication trials. These findings therefore support rTMS being a recommended earlier in a patient’s treatment journey, given it is found to be more cost effective than standard pharmacological interventions for MDD.
Voigt J, Carpenter L, Leuchter A (2017) Cost effectiveness analysis comparing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to antidepressant medications after a first treatment failure for major depressive disorder in newly diagnosed patients – A lifetime analysis. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0186950. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186950