To assess total and allergic rhinitis (AR)-related healthcare costs among AR patients residing in the U.S., with a focus on patients persisting with AIT.
AR patients were identified in the IBM MarketScan database between Jan-1-2014 to Mar-31-2017. Patients receiving allergy immunotherapy (AIT) were identified with relevant billing codes (earliest AIT claim = index date); non-AIT patients were identified with claims containing a diagnosis code for AR (earliest AR claim = index date). AIT patients reaching 25+ injection claims were analyzed as a separate maintenance cohort. All patients were required to have continuous enrollment for 12 months preceding and following index.
A total of 2,334,530 AR patients were included; 103,207 had at least 1 AIT claim, with 45,279 (43.9%) of these patients reaching maintenance, and 24,640 AIT patients (23.9%) never presenting a single injection claim. Compared to non-AIT patients, patients initiating AIT presented higher rates of baseline comorbidities, including asthma (30.1% vs. 7.5%) and conjunctivitis (21.7% vs. 4.4%). During the follow-up period, patients reaching the maintenance phase of AIT incurred lower total costs than the overall AIT cohort ($10,431±$16,606 vs. $11,612±$24,797), and also presented lower follow-up hospitalization costs ($698±$7,248 vs. $1,281±$12,991) and total medical costs ($7,950±$13,844 vs. $8,989±$22,019).
Continued efforts are needed to increase patient awareness of available options and adherence to AIT, along with reducing wastage. Despite AIT patients presenting fairly progressed disease at the time of treatment initiation, this therapy remains an economical treatment option, as it was not accompanied by substantial increases in overall healthcare expenditure, and may promote positive societal impacts beyond the direct medical costs.What is known on this topicThe prevalence of allergic diseases has increased over the past 50 years and affects between 10-30% of the world population.Allergic rhinitis (AR) poses a significant economic burden in the form of both direct and indirect costsAllergy immunotherapy (AIT) is the only treatment option able to modify the underlying course of the disease.What this study addsSpecific all-cause and AR-related healthcare costs decreased following the initiation of AIT among patients diagnosed with AR, with the largest decreases observed among AIT patients reaching the maintenance phase of treatment, while non-AIT patients showed increases in all categories assessed over a similar follow-up period.Cost decreases among AIT patients were observed despite increased levels of comorbidities compared to non-AIT patients, as the AIT cohort presented elevated rates of atopic dermatitis (7.1% vs. 2.7%), conjunctivitis (21.7% vs. 4.4%), asthma (30.1% vs. 7.5%), and chronic sinusitis (22.6% vs. 4.9%).An analysis of patients’ index subcutaneous AIT consultation revealed substantial variability in the initial treatment costs, with nearly 20% of paid amounts exceeding $1,000; given nearly 1 in 4 AIT patients who get AIT mixed never came back for their first injection, this highlights an opportunity to target frontloaded billing practices and the timing of mixing/injection as an area to minimize healthcare waste.