(HealthDay News) – Treating children with sickle cell anemia with hydroxyurea is associated with lower total medical costs (higher outpatient costs but lower inpatient costs) as compared to placebo, according to a study published online Sept. 2 in Pediatrics.

Winfred C. Wang, MD, from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, and colleagues analyzed medical costs from a clinical trial in which children with sickle cell anemia were randomly assigned to placebo or hydroxyurea, where hydroxyurea was shown to reduce episodes of pain, hospitalization, and transfusions.

The researchers found that there were 324 hospitalizations in the placebo group and 232 hospitalizations in the hydroxyurea group, with similar lengths of stay. Although the hydroxyurea group had greater outpatient costs, these were overshadowed by inpatient costs. The total estimated annual cost was 21% lower for the hydroxyurea group ($11,072 vs. $13,962).

“Savings on inpatient care resulted in a significantly lower overall estimated medical care cost for young children with sickle cell anemia who were receiving hydroxyurea compared with those receiving placebo,” Wang and colleagues conclude.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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