Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Economic Burden of ACPA+ patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jul• 17•17

That is the topic of my most recent article in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy along with co-authors Mahlet Gizaw Tebeka, Kwanza Price, Chad Patel, and Kaleb Michaud.  The abstract of the article–titled “The Economic Burden of ACPA-Positive Status Among Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis“–is below.

BACKGROUND: Anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) are serological biomarkers associated with early, rapidly progressing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including more severe disease and joint damage. ACPA testing has become a routine tool for RA diagnosis and prognosis. Furthermore, treatment efficacy has been shown to vary by ACPA-positive status. However, it is not clear if the economic burden of patients with RA varies by ACPA status.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if the economic burden of RA varies by patient ACPA status.

METHODS: IMS PharMetrics Plus health insurance claims and electronic medical record (EMR) data from 2010-2015 were used to identify patients with incident RA. Patients were aged ≥ 18 years, had ≥ 1 inpatient or ≥ 2 outpatient claims reporting an RA diagnosis code (ICD-9-CM code 714.0), and had an anticyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP; a surrogate of ACPA) antibody test within 6 months of diagnosis. Incident patients were defined as those who had no claims with an RA diagnosis code in the 6 months before the first observed RA diagnosis. The primary outcome of interest was RA-related medical expenditures, defined as the sum of payer- and patient-paid amounts for all claims with an RA diagnosis code. Secondary outcomes included health care utilization metrics such as treatment with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) and physician visits. Generalized linear regression models were used for each outcome, controlling for ACPA-positive status (defined as anti-CCP ≥ 20 AU/mL), age, sex, and Charlson Comorbidity Index score as explanatory variables.

RESULTS: Of 647,171 patients diagnosed with RA, 89,296 were incident cases, and 47% (n = 42,285) had an anti-CCP test. After restricting this sample to patients with a linked EMR and reported anti-CCP test result, 859 remained, with 24.7% (n = 212) being ACPA-positive. Compared with ACPA-negative patients, adjusted results showed that ACPA-positive patients were more likely to use either conventional (71.2% vs. 49.6%; P < 0.001) or biologic (20.3% vs. 11.8%; P < 0.001) DMARDs during the first year after diagnosis and had more physician visits (5.58 vs. 3.91 times per year; P < 0.001). Annual RA-associated total expenditures were $7,941 for ACPA-positive and $5,243 for ACPA-negative patients (Δ = $2,698; P = 0.002). RA-associated medical expenditures were $4,380 for ACPA-positive and $3,427 for ACPA-negative patients (Δ = $954; P = 0.168), whereas DMARD expenditures were $3,560 and $1,817, respectively (Δ = $1,743; P = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: RA-related economic burden is higher for patients who are ACPA-positive compared with those who are ACPA-negative. Providers may wish to inform patients diagnosed with ACPA-positive RA about the likely future disease and economic burden in hopes that both stakeholders can be more proactive in addressing them.

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