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Study details cost-effectiveness of rheumatoid arthritis treatments for Medicare recipients
Date:4/14/2008

For elderly and disabled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers, the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA) brought the promise of better disease management with biologic drugs. Prior to its passage in 2006, Medicare covered only one of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, the infusion drug infliximab, also known by its brand name, Remicade. Since the MMA, most Medicare prescription drug plans offer coverage of the anti-TNF self-injectables etanercept (Enbrel) and adalimumab (Humira), as well as the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist anakinra (Kineret). More effective at controlling the painful and crippling symptoms of RA than conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologic drugs are also more expensive. According to a recent study, this new class of therapies has increased the cost of treating a patient with RA in the United States 3-fold.

To help Medicare beneficiaries and their providers select the best-value treatment option, a team of researchers, supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, developed a mathematical model to estimate the costs and benefits of etanercept, adalimumab, and anakinra compared with those of infliximab over a patients lifetime. Their results, featured in the April 2008 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism ( www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis ), make a case for coverage of either etanercept or adalimumab over infliximab. In terms of effectiveness, the 3 TNF inhibitors are nearly equal. Getting the same results with infliximab, however, requires paying moreroughly $13,000 moreper patient. Anakinra is substantially less costly than the anti-TNF drugs but also less effective.

The researchers drew on data on RA patients from randomized controlled trials and a storehouse of self-reported patient information, the National Data
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Contact: Sean Wagner
swagner@bos.blackwellpublishing.com
781-388-8550
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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