Prostacyclin use among patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension in the United States: A retrospective analysis of a large health care claims database

Charles D. Burger, Janis A. Pruett, Cassandra A. Lickert, Ariel Berger, Brian Murphy, William Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Prostacyclins play an important role in the management of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Intravenous prostacyclin was the first disease-specific treatment for patients with PAH. Subcutaneous and nonparenteral (oral or inhaled) formulations have subsequently become available. However, data are lacking on how these different prostacyclin formulations are being used in clinical practice. OBJECTIVES: To (a) conduct retrospective analyses of a large U.S. health care claims database to describe the characteristics of patients with PAH initiating prostacyclin therapy, and (b) evaluate their treatment patterns, health care resource use, and associated costs. METHODS: Truven Commercial and Medicare databases were used to define annual cohorts of adults with PAH between January 1, 2010, and October 31, 2015. These patients were identified based on claims with ICD-9-CM diagnoses indicative of PAH (codes 416.0 or 416.8) and claims for PAH-specific medications and PAH-related procedures. Patients with evidence of receiving a prostacyclin were identified, and prostacyclin use was categorized as parenteral versus nonparenteral. Health care costs were assessed alternatively employing an all-cause and PAH-related perspective. RESULTS: Of 13,633 adults with identified PAH, 3,006 (22.0%) received a prostacyclin during at least 1 year of the study period, and annual prevalence of prostacyclin use ranged from 19.9% to 22.6%. Across calendar years, the median age of prostacyclin users ranged from 56 to 58 years, and 71.9%-75.8% were female. Among prostacyclin users, parenteral prostacyclin use declined from 63.2% in 2010 to 46.5% in 2015, while use of nonparenteral prostacyclins increased from 39.7% to 56.2% over the same period (both P < 0.001). Few patients (2.7%-4.1%) received both parenteral and nonparenteral formulations in a given calendar year. Among patients using prostacyclins, receipt of other PAH-specific medications increased from 62.1% in 2010 to 79.2% in 2015. Comparing the 6 months preceding the first prostacyclin prescription (any formulation) to the 6 months subsequent, mean overall health care costs rose from $61,243 to $119,283, and PAH-related health care costs increased from $58,815 to $116,661, driven mainly by PAH-specific medications, spending on which increased from $15,053 to $73,705 (all P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: While overall use of prostacyclins was relatively constant from 2010 to 2015, our findings revealed a shift from parenteral to nonparenteral formulations, coupled with increased prescribing of PAH-related medications from other drug classes. Further research is needed to better understand how these changes in patterns of prostacyclin use affect levels of health care resource utilization and costs and patients' overall quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-302
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Health Policy


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