Background: It remains unclear whether the use of new oral anticoagulants, compared with warfarin, is economically beneficial in Asian countries. Objective: The objective of this study is to compare the health care costs and utilization between dabigatran and warfarin in a real-world nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) population. Research Design: Data were obtained from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database, and patients with an NVAF diagnosis between June 1, 2012, and May 31, 2014, were identified using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code of 427.31. The patients in the dabigatran cohort were matched 1:2 to those in the warfarin cohort by sex, age, residential region, and a propensity score that incorporated a major bleeding history, CHADS 2 score, and Charlson Comorbidity Index. The all-cause health care utilization and associated costs of the 2 treatment groups were compared at 3 and 12 months. Results: A total of 1149 patients taking dabigatran were identified and matched with 2298 warfarin users. During the 3-month observation period, the likelihood of having at least 1 hospitalization among dabigatran users was significantly lower than that of warfarin users (odds ratio=0.78; P=0.001). Patients in the dabigatran group incurred lower mean emergency department costs ($2383.1 vs. $3033.6), mean ischemic stroke-related hospitalization costs ($8869.5 vs. $13,990.5), and mean all-cause hospitalization costs ($32,402.2 vs. $50,669.9) at 3 months. However, both the mean and median outpatient costs of warfarin users were consistently lower than those of dabigatran users ($17,161.2 vs. $24,931.4 and $10,509.0 vs. $20,671.5, respectively). Similar trends were observed at 12 months, except that the 2 groups had comparable total health care costs. Conclusions: The use of dabigatran is associated with lower emergency department and all-cause hospitalization costs but greater outpatient costs in a real-world, NVAF patient population compared with warfarin.
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