BACKGROUND: The impact on patients suffering from chronic hand eczema (CHE) is enormous, as no licensed systemic treatment option with proven efficacy for CHE is available. Alitretinoin is a novel agent which showed high clinical efficacy in patients with severe, refractory CHE. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of alitretinoin for CHE patient treatment from a Swiss third party payer perspective. A further objective of this study was to determine the burden of disease in Switzerland. METHODS: A long-term Markov cohort simulation model was used to estimate direct medical costs (euro) and clinical effectiveness (quality adjusted life years, QALYs) of treating severe CHE patients with alitretinoin. Comparison was against the standard treatment of supportive care (optimised emollient therapy). Information on response rates were derived from a randomized controlled clinical trial. Costs were considered from the perspective of the Swiss health system. Swiss epidemiological data was derived from official Swiss Statistic institutions. RESULTS: Annual costs of alitretinoin treatment accounted for 2'212 euro. After a time horizon of 22.4 years, average remaining long-term costs accounted for 42'208 euro or 38'795 euro in the alitretinoin and the standard treatment arm, respectively. Compared with the standard therapy, the addition of alitretinoin yielded an average gain of 0.230 QALYs at the end of the simulation. Accordingly, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio resulted in 14'816 euro/QALY gained. These results were robust to changes in key model assumptions. CONCLUSION: The therapy for CHE patients is currently insufficient. In our long-term model we identified the treatment with alitretinoin as a cost-effective alternative for the therapy of CHE patients in Switzerland.