Biologic disease-modifying drug treatment patterns and associated costs for patients with rheumatoid Arthritis

Stephan McBride, Khaled Sarsour, Leigh Ann White, David R Nelson, Anita J Chawla, Joseph A Johnston
Journal of Rheumatology 2011, 38 (10): 2141-9

OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of biologic treatment patterns on healthcare costs for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) initiating tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) antagonist therapy.

METHODS: Patients with 2 RA diagnoses (International Classification of Diseases, 9th ed, 714.xx), and without psoriasis or Crohn's disease, were identified in a US employer-based insurance claims database. A sample of 2545 was constructed based on an index event of initiating TNF-α antagonist therapy and 30 months of continuous enrollment. Baseline characteristics were assessed in the 6-month pre-index period and treatment patterns were determined during the 12-month post-index period. Medical service and prescription drug costs were analyzed for Months 13-24 using multivariate regression analysis to control for baseline characteristics and time-varying confounding associated with treatment and disease severity.

RESULTS: In the first year after TNF-α initiation, 89% used a single TNF-α antagonist; only 9% and 2% had switched TNF-α antagonists or received non-TNF biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, respectively. Descriptive analyses revealed pairwise differences between groups (p < 0.05) in baseline characteristics (comorbidities, RA-related procedure use, and prescription drug use). Controlling for observed baseline characteristics, costs were greater for those treated with multiple vs single TNF-α antagonists: annual RA-related prescription drug costs ($8,340 vs $7,058; p = 0.012), RA-related healthcare costs ($15,048 vs $13,312; p = 0.008), and total healthcare costs ($26,697 vs $21,381; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: In this sample, the majority of patients with RA were treated with a single TNF-α antagonist over the first year on therapy. For those who switched therapy, Year 2 RA-related and total direct healthcare costs were higher, adjusting for claims-based measures of RA disease severity.

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