Treatment patterns and associated health care costs before and after treatment initiation among pulmonary arterial hypertension patients in the United States

Charles D. Burger, A. Burak Ozbay, Howard M. Lazarus, Ellen Riehle, Leslie B. Montejano, Gregory Lenhart, R. James White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Despite multiple treatment options, the prognosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains poor. PAH patients experience a high economic burden due to comorbidities, hospitalizations, and medication costs. Although combination therapy has been shown to reduce hospitalizations, the relationship between treatment, health care utilization, and costs remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: To provide a characterization of health care utilization and costs in real-world settings by comparing periods before and after initiating PAH-specific treatment. METHODS: This retrospective study identified PAH patients in the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial and Medicare Supplemental Databases between 2010 and 2014 who initiated treatment with endothelin receptor antagonists (ERAs), phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE-5Is), or soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulators. The index date was the date of the first PAH pharmacy claim. We included patients with ≥ 2 medical claims with diagnoses for PAH (ICD-9-CM: 416.0, 416.8) or PAH-related conditions and continuous enrollment in medical and pharmacy benefits for the 6 months before and after the index date. Treatment patterns were assessed at the drug class level (ERAs, PDE-5Is, sGC stimulators, and prostacyclins) from outpatient pharmacy claims during the 6-month post-index period. All-cause and PAH-related utilization and costs were measured. McNemar's and paired t-tests were used to compare patients' health care resource utilization and costs in the 6-month pre- and posttreatment periods. RESULTS: A total of 3,908 patients met the selection criteria. The study sample was 63% female with a mean age of 63 ± 15 years. Only 5% of patients began initial combination therapy for PAH, defined as claims for ≥ 2 medication classes within the first 30 days of treatment. Treatment interruption (≥ 30-day gap in days supply) of any PAH-specific medication was observed in 38% of patients. Compared with the 6-month pre-index period, the proportion of patients in the 6-month post-index period with any inpatient admission decreased, 42% versus 30% (P < 0.001). In addition, PAH-related inpatient admissions decreased in the 6-month post-index period from 7% to 3% (P < 0.001). After treatment initiation, patients' nonpharmacy medical costs decreased from $48,200 (SD = $117,686) to $33,962 (SD = $90,294; P < 0.001), mainly attributable to reduced inpatient costs. However, total average medical costs including pharmacy costs remained comparable after treatment initiation (pre-index period = $51,455 vs. post-index period = $53,923; P = 0.213). CONCLUSIONS: This study found that while patients' PAH-related pharmacy costs increased after treatment initiation, the increase was offset by reduced inpatient utilization; therefore, total health care costs remained constant. While the majority of patients in this study were treated with monotherapy, the recently completed AMBITION study indicated that initial combination therapy with ambrisentan plus tadalafil reduced PAH-related hospitalizations compared with initial monotherapy with either of these agents. Future cost analyses of patients treated with combination therapy will be required to determine the economic effect of initial combination therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-842
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Health Policy


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