Estimating the response and economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in Taiwan using the national health insurance research database (NHIRD)

Qiang Shi, Ko Jen Li, Tamas Treuer, Bruce C.M. Wang, Carol L. Gaich, Chien Hsun Lee, Wen Shuo Wu, Wesley Furnback, Chao Hsiun Tang

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Background Previous studies in Taiwan utilizing the Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Database (NHIRD) have estimated the direct healthcare costs of RA patients, but they have not focused on patients on bDMARDs, or considered patients’ response to therapy. Objectives The objective of this study was to estimate the rate of inadequate response for patients newly treated with biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) as well as their costs and resource use. Methods Data were from the catastrophic illness file within the NHIRD from 1/1/2009 to 12/31/2013. Patients with RA, which was categorized by the presence of a catastrophic illness card, that were previously bDMARD-naïve, were included in this study if they initiated their first bDMARD during the index period. The index period included all of 2010, a pre-index period consisting of the index date– 365 days, and a follow-up period including the index date to 365 days post-index, were also included. Previously biologically-naïve patients were indexed into the study on the date of their first claim for a bDMARD. A validated algorithm was used to examine the rate of inadequate response (IR) in the biologically-naïve cohort of patients. Inadequate responders met one or more of the following criteria during their year of follow-up: low adherence (proportion of days covered <0.80); switched to or added a second bDMARD; added a new conventional synthetic DMARD (csDMARD); received 1 glucocorticoid injection; or increased oral glucocorticoid dosing. All-cause mean annual direct costs and resource use were measured in the year of follow-up. Costs were converted from NT$ to USD using 1 NT$ = 0.033 USD. Results A total of 818 patients with RA initiated their first bDMARD (54% etanercept and 46% adalimumab) in 2010. After one year of follow-up, 32% (n = 258) were classified as stable, 66% (n = 540) had an IR, and 2% (n = 20) were lost to follow-up. During the follow-up period mean annual total direct costs were $16,136 for stable patients compared to $14,154 for patients with IR. Mean annual non-medication direct costs were $937 for stable patients and $1,574 for patients with IR. Mean annual hospitalizations were higher for patients with IR (0.46) compared to stable patients (0.10) during the one year follow-up period. Conclusions The majority of patients that were previously naïve to bDMARDs had an IR to their first bDMARD during the year of follow-up. Patients with an IR had numerically increased all-cause resource utilization and non-medication costs during the follow-up period compared to patients with stable disease. This level of IR suggests an unmet need in the RA treatment paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0193489
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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