Aims: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multifaceted autoimmune disease involving multiple organs systems and places a significant economic burden on SLE patients. There is a literature gap regarding the standard of care and economic burden in SLE patients, their families, and society. This study assessed medication use patterns among SLE patients and generated the annual and total economic burden associated with the illness.
Materials and methods: Adult patients with ≥2 medical claims on different dates for SLE diagnoses were identified from 01 January 2013 to 31 December 2015 using two large administrative claims databases representative of the commercially insured US population. Patient demographics and clinical characteristics during 1-year pre-SLE diagnosis were assessed. Outcomes including the proportion of patients who used SLE medications and annual costs were assessed 1-year post-SLE diagnosis. Total costs related to SLE were extrapolated to the US population to estimate the economic burden based on SLE prevalence.
Results: A total of 30,086 SLE patients were identified. The most common baseline comorbidities were hypertension and infections. Corticosteroids and hydroxychloroquine were the most common SLE medications. Biologics utilization was minimal. SLE patients had, on average, 26.0 physician visits, 23.7 prescription claims, 1.7 inpatient admissions, and 2.0 hospital days per patient 1-year post-SLE diagnosis. Annual all-cause median costs among all SLE patients were $8712 per patient per year. Total costs ranged between $1.4-1.6 and $2.8-3.2 billion per year, depending on prevalence estimates.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate a nominal use of biologics (∼2%) among SLE patients; despite belimumab being one of the few approved treatments for SLE in the USA. These data reveal an unmet need for availability of advanced SLE therapy, and future studies are warranted concerning the underlying causes. SLE is also associated with a substantial economic burden of ≤3.2 billion per year. These findings may assist in future planning and resource allocation.
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