Intrathecal drug delivery systems for cancer pain

Ontario Health
Record ID 32018011343
Authors' objectives: Pain is a common and very distressing symptom for adults and children with cancer. Compared with other routes of delivery, infusing pain medication directly into the intrathecal space around the spinal cord may reduce the incidence of systemic side effects and allow for more rapid and effective pain relief. We conducted a health technology assessment of intrathecal drug delivery systems (IDDSs) for adults and children with cancer pain, which included an evaluation of effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness, the budget impact of publicly funding IDDSs, patient preferences and values, and ethical considerations.
Authors' results and conclusions: Intrathecal drug delivery likely reduces pain intensity and decreases the use of systemic opioids in adults with cancer pain who have a life expectancy greater than 6 months. It may also improve health-related quality of life, functional outcomes, and survival, although the evidence for survival is very uncertain. The clinical evidence in children with cancer pain is very uncertain. IDDS implantation is reasonably safe. Intrathecal drug delivery is more effective and more costly than standard care. We estimate that funding IDDSs in Ontario will result in additional costs of $0.27 million per year, for a total of $1.34 million over the next 5 years. Considerations related to funding and implementing IDDSs for patients with cancer pain in Ontario will require explicit and focused attention to considerations of equity and access in the diagnosis and management of cancer pain and in the use, clinical uptake, and delivery of IDDS pain management.
Authors' recommendations: Ontario Health, based on guidance from the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee, recommends publicly funding intrathecal drug delivery systems for cancer pain.
Authors' methods: We performed a systematic literature search of the clinical evidence to retrieve systematic reviews, and we selected and reported results from 2 recent reviews that were relevant to our research questions. We complemented the chosen systematic reviews with a literature search to identify primary studies published after December 2020. We used the Risk of Bias in Systematic Reviews (ROBIS) tool to assess the risk of bias of each included systematic review. We assessed the quality of the body of evidence according to the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) Working Group criteria. We performed a systematic economic literature search and conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing IDDSs with standard care (i.e., non-IDDS methods of pain management) from a public payer perspective. We also analyzed the budget impact of publicly funding IDDSs in Ontario. To contextualize the potential value of IDDSs, we spoke with patients with cancer pain and with caregivers of patients with cancer pain. We explored ethical considerations from a review of published literature on the use of IDDSs for the management of cancer pain in adults and children as well as a review of the other components of this health technology assessment to identify ethical considerations relevant to the Ontario context.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2024
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Full HTA
Country: Canada
Pubmed ID: 38344326
MeSH Terms
  • Cancer Pain
  • Pain Management
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Infusions, Spinal
  • Neoplasms
  • Infusion Pumps, Implantable
  • Cancer Pain; Drug Delivery Systems; Neoplasms
Organisation Name: Ontario Health
Contact Address: 525 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 2L3
Contact Name: Nancy Sikich, Director Health Technology Assessment
Contact Email:
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This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.