Switching Ophthalmologic Drugs Could Save Medicare $

(HealthDay News) — By switching preferred therapy for macular degeneration, Medicare can realize substantial cost savings, according to a report published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

David Hutton, PhD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used modeling methods to predict 10-year (2010–2020) population-level costs and health benefits of using bevacizumab and ranibizumab. The two drugs have similar efficacy and adverse-event rates; however, ranibizumab costs forty times more than bevacizumab.

The researchers found that if all patients were treated with the less expensive bevacizumab instead of current usage patterns, savings would amount to $18 billion for Medicare Part B and nearly $5 billion for patients. The total savings would be almost $29 billion if an additional $6 billion savings in other health care expenses were included.

“Altering patterns of use with these therapies by encouraging bevacizumab use and hastening approval of biosimilar therapies would dramatically reduce spending without substantially affecting patient outcomes,” the authors write.

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