Background: Inpatient costs associated with different erythropoietic-stimulating therapy regimens have not been compared in an oncology setting.
Objective: To conduct a cost analysis of different regimens of epoetin alfa (EPO) and darbepoetin alfa (DARB) in an inpatient oncology setting.
Methods: A retrospective evaluation of oncology diagnosis-related group discharges during 2003, in 30 community hospitals, identified EPO treatment patterns. Wholesale acquisition costs were determined for patients who received EPO 40,000 units or more once weekly. Potential differences in costs were calculated using conversion ratios for an equivalent EPO dose 3 times weekly or DARB dose once weekly (EPO:DARB ratio 260:1, approximating DARB 150 microg once weekly). A sensitivity analysis was performed using an EPO:DARB ratio of 400:1, approximating DARB 100 microg once weekly (1.5 microg/kg).
Results: Among the 1410 EPO doses administered (n = 677 pts.), a dose of 40,000 units or more was used 44% of the time (n = 311 pts.), with dosing initiated on average 5.6 days after admission. For these 311 evaluable patients, switching from EPO 40,000 units once weekly to EPO 10,000 units 3 times weekly reduced per-patient and total drug acquisition costs by approximately 50% (704 US dollars vs 359 US dollars and 218,938 US dollars vs 111,615 US dollars, respectively). Relative to EPO once weekly, switching patients to DARB resulted in increased drug acquisition costs at the 260:1 conversion and lower costs at the 400:1 conversion. However, EPO 3 times weekly remained the least costly option by 44-63%. The cost-savings realized with EPO 10,000 units 3 times weekly increased with longer duration of hospitalization.
Conclusions: In an inpatient setting, use of EPO 10,000 units 3 times weekly may minimize expenditures associated with treatment of cancer-related anemia using erythropoietic-stimulating therapies.