Cost of Alteplase Has More Than Doubled over the Past Decade

Dawn Kleindorfer, Joseph Broderick, Bart Demaerschalk, Jeffrey Saver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - Intravenous alteplase (tissue-type plasminogen activator) has been shown to be cost-effective because of savings in long-term disability. In October of 2005, an increased DRG payment to hospitals for alteplase-treated stroke patients was introduced. We sought to describe the trends in the cost of alteplase over time, in comparison to trends in hospital reimbursement in the United States. Methods - Using publicly available information on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website (, we obtained CMS quarterly payment amounts between January 1, 2005, and October 1, 2014, for alteplase, listed as alteplase recombinant, per mg. CMS payment amounts are the manufacturer's average sales price+6% until April 2014, when it was lowered to +4.3%. Estimates for DRG base payments were calculated within the Medicare Provider and Analysis Review (MEDPAR) for fiscal years 2006 (DRG 559) and 2013 (MS DRGs 61, 62, and 63) as (DRG relative weights)×(standardized operating and capital amount). The consumer price index was also queried for all prescription drugs, urban areas, during the same study period as reference. Results - The CMS payment amount for alteplase per milligram was 30.50 in January 2005 and 64.30 in October 2014. Trends in the CMS payment amounts for alteplase increased by 111% between 2005 and 2014. The consumer price index for all prescription drugs increased by 30.2% in the same time frame. The base payment for alteplase-treated stroke admissions was 11 173 in 2006 and 12 064 in 2013, an 8% increase. Conclusions - We found a striking increase in the cost of alteplase over the last decade, with a 100 mg vial now with a CMS payment of ≈6400, a >100% increase over 10 years. During the same time frame, the DRG base payment to hospitals increased by only 8%, and alteplase cost increased from 27% of the payment in 2006 to 53% in 2013. Researchers and stroke physicians should be aware of these changes in drug costs and their impact on cost-effectiveness analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2000-2002
Number of pages3
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • cost
  • diagnosis
  • drug therapy
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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