Association between oral 5-ASA adherence and health care utilization and costs among patients with active ulcerative colitis

Debanjali Mitra, Paul Hodgkins, Linnette Yen, Keith L Davis, Russell D Cohen
BMC Gastroenterology 2012, 12: 132

BACKGROUND: Observational cohort study to assess the association between adherence to oral 5-aminosalicylates (5-ASAs) and all-cause costs and health care utilization among patients with active ulcerative colitis (UC) in the United States.

METHODS: Retrospective analysis of insurance claims from June 1997 to August 2006 in the LifeLink Database. Patient criteria: aged 18 or older with one or more claim(s) between June 1997 and August 2005 for a UC diagnosis and at least one oral 5-ASA prescription on or after the first observed UC diagnosis; continuous enrollment for at least 6 months prior to and 12 months following 5-ASA initiation (index date). As a proxy for active disease, patients needed to have at least two UC-specific non-pharmacy claims, at least 30 days of 5-ASA treatment and at least one corticosteroid prescription within the 12-month post-index period. Cumulative exposure to oral 5-ASAs over the 12-month period was calculated using the medication possession ratio (MPR). Patients with an MPR of at least 0.80 were classified as adherent. All-cause medical and pharmacy resource utilization and costs were computed over the 12-month post-index period and compared between adherent and nonadherent patients.

RESULTS: 1,693 UC patients met study inclusion criteria: 72% were nonadherent to 5-ASA treatment (n=1,217) and 28% were adherent (n=476) in the 12-month study period. Compared with nonadherent patients, adherent patients had 31% fewer hospitalizations (P=0.0025) and 34% fewer emergency department admissions (P=0.0016). Adherent patients had 25% more pharmacy prescriptions overall (P <0.0001) and 71% more UC-related pharmacy prescriptions (P <0.0001) than did nonadherent patients. Total all-cause health care utilization was 1.13 times higher for adherent patients than for nonadherent patients (P=0.0002). After adjusting for covariates, total all-cause costs were 29% higher for nonadherent patients than for adherent patients (mean [95% confidence interval]: $13,465 [$13,094, $13,835] vs $17,339 [$17,033, $17,645]).

CONCLUSIONS: Approximately three-quarters of patients with active UC were not adherent with their prescribed doses of oral 5-ASA. Nonadherence was associated with higher total all-cause costs. The key driver of decreased costs among adherent patients was inpatient hospitalizations, which more than offset these patients' expected higher pharmacy costs.

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