Research Article| Volume 38, ISSUE 7, P1710-1725, July 2016

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The Budget Impact of Increased Use of Febuxostat in the Management of Gout: A US Health Plan Managed Care Pharmacy and Medical Costs Perspective



      Gout is a chronic disease characterized by the deposition of urate crystals in the joints and throughout the body, caused by an excess burden of serum uric acid (sUA). The study estimates pharmacy and medical cost budgetary impacts of wider adoption by US payers of febuxostat, a urate-lowering therapy (ULT) for the treatment of gout.


      A US payer-perspective budget impact model followed ULT patients from a 1,000,000-member plan over 3 years. The current market share scenario, febuxostat (6%) and ULT allopurinol (94%), was compared with an 18% febuxostat market share. Data were implemented from randomized controlled trials, census and epidemiologic studies, and real-world database analyses. An innovation was the inclusion of gout-related chronic kidney disease costs. Cost results were estimated as annual and cumulative incremental costs, expressed as total costs, cost per member per month, and cost per treated member per month. Clinical results were also estimated.


      Increasing the febuxostat market share resulted in a 6.3% increase in patients achieving the sUA target level of <6.0 mg/dL and a 1.4% reduction in gout flares during the 3-year period. Total cost increased 1.4%, with a 49.9% increase in ULT costs, a 1.4% reduction in flare costs, a 1.2% reduction in chronic kidney disease costs, and a 2.8% reduction in gout care costs. The cumulative incremental costs were $1,307,425 in the first year, $1,939,016 through the second year, and $2,092,744 through the third year. By the third year, savings in medical costs offset most of the increase in treatment costs. Impacts on cumulative cost per member per month and cumulative cost per treated member per month followed the same pattern, with the highest impact in the first year and cumulative impacts declining during the 3-year period. The cumulative cost per member per month impact was estimated as $0.109, $0.081, and $0.058 and the cumulative cost per treated member per month impact was estimated as $12.416, $9.207, and $6.625 in the first year, through the second year, and through the third year, respectively.


      Expanding the febuxostat market share would result in improved clinical outcomes, but with an overall increase in costs over 3 years due to higher costs of treatment. By the third year, savings in medical costs, primarily in chronic kidney disease costs, would offset most of the increase in treatment costs. Expanded use of febuxostat in the treatment of all gout patients, independent of renal impairment status, should be considered based on improved clinical outcomes and longer-term medical cost savings associated with these improved outcomes.

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