Medication costs may affect glaucoma treatment

January 3, 2008

Philadelphia-Glaucoma management in the United States is estimated to cost about $2.5 billion per year, according to researchers from the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, TX. Glaucoma medications account for 38% to 58% of the $1.9 billion in direct costs.

Philadelphia-Glaucoma management in the United States is estimated to cost about $2.5 billion per year, according to researchers from the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, TX. Glaucoma medications account for 38% to 58% of the $1.9 billion in direct costs.

According to an article published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Texas A&M University researchers found that there were significant price differences and increases in cost over time for patients with various topical glaucoma medications.

Results from earlier studies were used to evaluate the increases in Average Wholesale Prices (AWP) from 1999 to 2006.

The most expensive are nonselective beta-blockers, according to researchers. For all categories of drugs, the yearly cost ranged from $150.81 for generic beta-blockers, to $697.42 for combination formulation, to as high as $873.98 for a three-times daily dose of alpha2-agonist.

Generic beta-blockers were the most economical with prostaglandin analogs ranging from $427.69 to $577.62, the researchers said. The generic selective alpha2-agonist brimonidine tartrate 0.2% is approximately between $352.89 and $529.34 per year for the respective two and three drops daily per eye regimens.

The trends through 1999-2006 and 2002 to 2006 showed significant increases, according to the researchers. The beta-blockers increased nearly 100% from 1999 to 2006.

Writing in the article, Steven D. Vold, MD, states, "Physicians consider many factors when treating patients with glaucoma. Ultimately, the goal of eye care providers is to give the best, most cost-effective care to their patients. Our study addresses the calculated cost per year passed on to the patient for single medication treatment plans.

"As newer medications and treatment schemes are introduced, future studies will be needed to update the rapidly changing economic information pertaining to the medical management of glaucoma," he said.