Authors: Nirmish Shah, Menaka Bhor, Lin Xie, Rashid Halloway, Steve Arcona, Jincy Paulose, Huseyin Yuce

Background: This study aimed to evaluate sickle-cell disease (SCD) treatment patterns and economic burden among patients prescribed hydroxyurea (HU) in the United States, through claims data.

Methods: SCD patients with pharmacy claims for HU were selected from the Medicaid Analytic Extracts (MAX) from January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2013. The first HU prescription during the identification period was defined as the index date and patients were required to have had continuous medical and pharmacy benefits for ≥6 months baseline and 12 months follow-up periods. Patient demographics, clinical characteristics, treatment patterns, health care utilization, and costs were examined, and variables were analyzed descriptively.

Results: A total of 3999 SCD patients prescribed HU were included; the mean age was 19.24 years, most patients were African American (73.3%), and the mean Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) score was 0.6. Asthma (20.3%), acute chest syndrome (15.6%), and infectious and parasitic diseases (20%) were the most prevalent comorbidities. During the 12-month follow-up period, 58.9% (N = 2357) of patients discontinued HU medication. The mean medication possession ratio (MPR) was 0.52, and 22.3% of patients had MPR ≥80%. The average length of stay (LOS) for SCD-related hospitalization was 13.35 days; 64% of patients had ≥1 SCD-related hospitalization. The mean annual total SCD-related costs per patient were $27,779, mostly inpatient costs ($20,128).

Conclusions: Overall, the study showed the patients had significant unmet needs manifest as poor medication adherence, high treatment discontinuation rates, and high economic burden.

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