This study aimed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of esketamine, a novel intranasally dosed antidepressant, for patients in the United States with treatment-resistant depression.


A decision-analytic model parameterized with efficacy data from phase 3 randomized trials of esketamine was used to simulate the effects of treatment with esketamine versus oral antidepressants over a 5-year horizon, from both societal and health care sector perspectives. Outcomes included remission and response of depression, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for esketamine. Value-based prices were calculated, defined as the per-dose price at which esketamine would become cost-effective given cost-effectiveness thresholds of $50,000/QALY, $100,000/QALY, and $150,000/QALY. Uncertainty in these outcomes was assessed with probabilistic sensitivity analyses. Key model parameters included the efficacy of esketamine versus oral antidepressants (relative risk of 1.39 for remission; 1.32 for response) and the monthly cost of esketamine ($5,572 for month 1; $1,699–$2,244 thereafter).


Over 5 years, esketamine was projected to increase time in remission from 25.3% to 31.1% of life-years, resulting in a gain of 0.07 QALYs. Esketamine increased societal costs by $16,617 and health care sector costs by $16,995. Base case ICERs were $237,111/QALY (societal) and $242,496/QALY (health care sector). Probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed a greater than 95% likelihood that esketamine’s ICER would be above $150,000/QALY. At a cost-effectiveness threshold of $150,000/QALY, esketamine’s value-based price was approximately $140/dose (versus a current price of $240/dose).


Esketamine is unlikely to be cost-effective for management of treatment-resistant depression in the United States unless its price falls by more than 40%.

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