Expenditures for glaucoma medications appear to have increased

June 13, 2011

In recent years, spending for glaucoma medications has increased, especially for women, persons who have only public health insurance and those with less than a high school education, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Glaucoma is a condition marked by damage to the , and is a leading cause of blindness. According to background information in the article, approximately 2.2 million individuals ages 40 years and older in the United States currently have primary open-angle ; this number is expected to increase by almost 50 percent by 2020. Presently, the direct annual medical costs associated with the condition are roughly $2.9 billion. Although data on glaucoma-expense trends is limited, the authors note that "there is a direct correlation between increased expenditure and increased severity of glaucoma, with medication consisting of one-third to one-half of direct costs."

To study current trends in glaucoma-related medication expenditures, Byron L. Lam, M.D., from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, and colleagues examined data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2001 to 2006. Beginning in 2006, these data included information about participation in the Medicare Part D . The analysis included 1,404 patients ages 18 years and older who had used glaucoma medication.

The authors found that in 2001, the average expenditure per patient for glaucoma medication was $445; by 2006, this amount had increased to $557. Significant increases appeared among women, those who had not completed high school and those who had only public health insurance. Additionally, average spending for prostaglandin analog medications increased from $168 in 2001 to $271 in 2006; during the same period, average spending for decreased from $167 to $69. In comparison with individuals who had , glaucoma medication expenditure among those with coverage was higher.

The authors explain that as the country's population ages and encompasses more patients with glaucoma, spending for drugs to treat the condition is likely to increase. "The results of our study as well as an understanding of the factors that account for the increase in glaucoma medication expenditure are important to help develop effective strategies and protocols for the medical management of glaucoma that optimize treatment and control expenditures," they write. Further study to explain the trends among patient subgroups is needed, the authors conclude.

Explore further: Glaucoma report points to increased costs

More information: Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.142

Related Stories

Acquired childhood glaucoma more common than congenital types

April 12, 2010

Childhood glaucoma may most commonly be caused by trauma, surgery or other acquired or secondary cause, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. In one Minnesota county, the condition occurred ...

Obese women may be less likely to develop glaucoma

February 14, 2011

Obesity may be associated with higher eye pressure and a decreased risk of open-angle glaucoma in women but not men, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the May issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Recommended for you

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.