Strategies to manage costs in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Gary M Owens
American Journal of Managed Care 2017, 23 (11 Suppl): S191-S196
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a diagnostically challenging disease. Clinicians are faced with the need to exclude alternative diagnoses, limited treatment and management guidelines, and few treatment options. Patients with IPF have significantly increased healthcare usage compared with similar patients without the disease. Medicare estimates for this disease are as high as $3 billion, not including cost of treatment. The disease, characterized by worsening dyspnea, declining lung function, nonspecific respiratory symptoms, and a varied clinical course randomly punctuated by episodes of acute exacerbations, is also accompanied by a host of comorbid conditions that contribute significantly to increased healthcare usage and cost. The comorbidities, which increase impairment and disability, and compromise patient quality of life and survival, include pulmonary and cardiac conditions, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, depression and anxiety, and lung cancer. Until recently, palliative care and lung transplant were the only options for management of IPF. Without a lung transplant, the median survival was estimated at 3 to 5 years from the initial diagnosis. Newer treatments, pirfenidone and nintedanib, demonstrate a modest effect on slowing decline in lung function in patients with IPF. Both were approved for the treatment of IPF in 2014. As potentially effective therapies emerge, attention should be given to healthcare resource usage and healthcare processes that ensure patient-centered management with sustainable, cost-effective, and quality care. As such, it is imperative that a structured, comprehensive, multidisciplinary management approach is used in the treatment and management of IPF and its associated comorbidities to limit costs and provide effective and quality healthcare.

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