The impact of recombinant human erythropoietin on medical care costs for hemodialysis patients in Canada
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Recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) is an established and effective therapy for anemia related to end stage renal disease. In addition to its clinical effects, it has been associated with significant improvements in quality of life for anemic hemodialysis patients. The therapy's impact on overall medical care expenditures for these patients remains uncertain, however. In this study, we examine the costs of r-HuEPO as well as potential offsetting reductions in other medical care costs that might result from the therapy. We used data from a randomized clinical trial, a longitudinal study of hemodialysis patients and the clinical literature to estimate the impact of r-HuEPO on transfusion requirements, transfusion-related illness, hospitalization and transplant success for these patients. We estimate that for patients that otherwise would be transfused, the therapy would reduce blood requirements by nearly 10 units per patient annually and hospital use by 8 days per year. In addition, increased transplant success due to r-HuEPO might result in 150 fewer patient months of dialysis treatments each year. Comparing the dollar value of these reductions with the cost of therapy yields a base case net increase in medical care expenditures of $3425 per patient year. Under varying assumptions, the estimates range from a net cost of $8320 to a net saving of $1775 per patient year.
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