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Medicaid policies vary widely for rheumatoid arthritis drugs
Date:11/4/2008

Patients with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis now have many more treatment options than in the past, including biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs, derived by modifying substances found in humans or animals, slow progression of the disease rather than simply treating the symptoms. The cost of biologic DMARDs is a major concern because a one month's supply may cost 100 times more than a year's supply of older, non-biologic DMARDs.

While Medicaid regulations do not permit states to completely exclude subsets of drugs, they are able to implement policies controlling the use of selected medications. Prior authorization is one commonly used tool for containing drug spending, with the goal of allowing access to these medications for selected patients while avoiding inappropriate use in others. However, little is known about how such policies are developed or how they affect drug use. A new study examined Medicaid prior authorization policies for biologic DMARDs along with use of selected medications before and after policy implementation. The study was published in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/77005015/home).

Led by Dr. Michael A. Fischer of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, researchers collected data from 49 states and the District of Columbia to determine whether their Medicaid programs had a prior authorization policy for six biologic DMARDs between 1999 and 2005 (before Medicare Part D). For those that had one, they determined which medications required authorization, when the policy had been implemented and what criteria needed to be met for payment to be approved. The study also included data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on drug utilization by Medicaid programs, including all outpatient prescriptions for whi
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Contact: Sean Wagner
swagner@wiley.com
781-388-8550
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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