Original Research

Peer-viewed studies and review articles on managed care.

The Cost-Effectiveness of Omega-3 Supplements For Prevention of Secondary Coronary Events

Jordana K. Schmier, MA
Managing scientist, Exponent, Alexandria, Va.
Nancy J. Rachman, PhD
Senior managing scientist, Exponent, Washington, D.C.
Michael T. Halpern, MD, PhD
Principal scientist, Exponent, Alexandria, Va.


Purpose: To project the clinical and economic benefits of omega-3 supplements for prevention of secondary (repeat) cardiovascular events in U.S. males.

Design: Decision-analytic model.

Methodology: Model clinical probabilities (rates of fatal myocardial infarction [MI] and cardiovascular death) were based on published trials. Costs were derived from standard U.S. sources. Outcomes include deaths delayed, cost per death delayed, fatal MIs avoided, and cost per fatal MI avoided. Costs, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness were determined for the initial year and over a 42-month model period. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to evaluate the robustness of key model assumptions.

Principal findings: According to the model, the use of omega-3 supplements results in fewer fatal MIs and fewer cardiovascular deaths in the short-term (1 year) and long-term (42-month) analyses. When including only direct medical treatment costs for fatal MIs, omega-3 supplementation is cost-effective compared to no supplementation. In terms of total costs (medical costs and decreased productivity), supplementation is cost-saving, providing better outcomes and lower/fewer costs. Supplementation remained cost-effective in all sensitivity analyses.

Conclusion: Under a variety of scenarios, omega-3 supplements are likely to improve health and lower total costs. Despite model limitations, omega-3 supplementation should be considered an important and cost-effective option for prevention of secondary cardiovascular events.

Author correspondence:
Michael T. Halpern, MD, PhD
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314
Email: mhalpern@exponent.com

The model used in this study was developed with funding from the Council for Responsible Nutrition.
The authors have declared that they have no financial conflicts of interest to disclose.

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