Differing commissioning arrangements may contribute to geographic variation in clinical management of digital ulcers in systemic sclerosis

Elizabeth Reilly, Randa Alshakh, Celia Beynon, Matthew Cates, Dhivya Das, Shuja Majeed, Ahsan Memon, Patrick O'Beirn, James Ritchie, John D Pauling
Clinical Medicine: Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 2020, 20 (3): 343-345
Phosphodiesterase inhibitors (such as sildenafil) and endothelin receptor antagonist, bosentan, are effective for digital ulcer disease in systemic sclerosis (SSc-DU) and are endorsed in international treatment recommendations. Commissioning of high-cost drugs, such as bosentan, however, differs across devolved nations of the UK. We report a multicentre service evaluation project to examine 'real world' management of SSc-DU before and following the 2015 UK Scleroderma Study Group (UKSSG) guidance, across south-west (SW) England and Wales. Results showed that iloprost and sildenafil use for SSc-DU was higher in patients in Wales prior to 2015. Between 2015-2017, sildenafil use for SSc-DU increased in SW England while remaining stable in Wales. Bosentan use for SSc-DU after 2015 in SW England increased, while remaining stable and proportionately lower in Wales. These findings demonstrate that differing commissioning guidance across devolved nations of the UK seems to contribute to geographic variation in patient care.

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