Scientific Literature

Economic and Clinical Burden of Managing Transfusion-dependent β-Thalassemia in the United States

Udeze, C., Evans, K.A., Yang, Y., Lillehaugen, T., Manjelievskaia, J. et al. Journal of Medical Economics. (2023)

Aims: To describe clinical complications, treatment use, healthcare resource utilization (HCRU), and costs among patients with transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia (TDT) in the United States.

Materials and methods: Merative MarketScan Databases were used to identify patients with β-thalassemia between 1 March 2010, and 1 March 2019. Patients were eligible for inclusion with ≥1 inpatient claim or ≥2 outpatient claims for β-thalassemia and ≥8 red blood cell transfusions (RBCTs) during any 12-month period after and including the date of the first qualifying β-thalassemia diagnosis code. Matched controls consisted of individuals without β-thalassemia. Clinical and economic outcomes of patients were assessed during ≥12 months of follow-up, defined as the period from the index date (i.e. the first RBCT) to either the end of continuous enrollment in benefits, inpatient death, or 1 March 2020.

Results: Overall, 207 patients with TDT and 1035 matched controls were identified. Most patients received iron chelation therapy (ICT) (91.3%), with a mean of 12.1 (standard deviation [SD] = 10.3) ICT claims per-patient-per-year (PPPY). Many also received RBCTs, with a mean of 14.2 (SD = 4.7) RBCTs PPPY. TDT was associated with higher annual ($137,125) and lifetime ($7.1 million) healthcare costs vs. matched controls ($4183 and $235,000, respectively). Annual costs were driven by ICT (52.1%) and RBCT use (23.6%). Patients with TDT had 7-times more total outpatient visits/encounters, 3-times more prescriptions, and 33-times higher total annual costs than matched controls.

Limitations: This analysis may underestimate the burden of TDT, as indirect healthcare costs (e.g. absenteeism, presenteeism, etc.) were not included. Results may not be generalizable to patients excluded from this analysis, including those with other types of insurance or without insurance.

Conclusions: Patients with TDT have high HCRU and direct healthcare costs. Treatments that eliminate the need for RBCTs could reduce the clinical and economic burden of managing TDT.

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