Background: There is limited previous research examining the healthcare costs of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (NV-AMD), which constrains our understanding of the economic impact of this condition. With aging populations, this leading cause of rapid vision loss in Western countries is expected to become a pressing health predicament, requiring decision makers to evaluate alternative treatment strategies for AMD.
Objective: To document the economic burden of bilateral NV-AMD, the late stage of AMD, in elderly patients, from a societal perspective. STUDY DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A cross-sectional, observational study surveyed 401 patients with bilateral NV-AMD and 471 non-AMD subjects in Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Physicians' records and subjects' standardized telephone interviews were used to record medical resource utilization, assistance with daily living and social benefits. Annual bilateral NV-AMD-related socioeconomic costs were calculated in euro, year 2005 values.
Main outcome measures: Societal costs including direct vision-related medical costs (e.g. treatment of AMD and vision-related equipment), direct non-vision-related medical costs (e.g. medications) and direct non-medical-related costs (e.g. home healthcare and social services) were the main outcome measures.
Results: The demographic profile of NV-AMD patients was similar across countries; however, co-morbid condition profiles varied. NV-AMD patients reported substantial health-related problems and associated health resource utilization (HRU). In the previous 12 months, 12-22% of patients fell, and half of these patients required medical treatments. More than 20% (range 21-59%) of patients were prescribed vision-enhancing equipment. More than half of the patients (54-81%) were living with a spouse or family member and 19-41% reported receiving assistance for activities of daily living. The average annual societal cost per bilateral NV-AMD patient treated was estimated to be euro 7879 in Canada, euro 7349 in France, euro 12 445 in Germany, euro 5732 in Spain and euro 5300 in the UK, and direct vision-related medical costs accounted for 23-63% of the total cost. Half of the patients were diagnosed with bilateral NV-AMD for <1 year, with an average length of 5 months; there were no statistically significant differences in total annual costs per patient between these patients and those who were diagnosed with bilateral disease for > or =1 year. Estimated annual societal costs of bilateral NV-AMD patients in these countries ranged from euro 268 to euro 1311 million. Estimated annual societal costs of all NV-AMD patients in these countries ranged from euro 671 to euro 3278 million.
Conclusions: Bilateral NV-AMD imposes significant functional impairment on patients, leading to increased HRU and a high societal cost burden. Differences in national healthcare systems and NV-AMD treatment patterns were reflected in the wide variation of NV-AMD costs across the five surveyed countries. Even though the prevalence rates and per-patient costs varied by country, the societal costs of NV-AMD patients were substantial in each country. Earlier intervention with effective therapies is expected to reduce disease burden and disability associated with NV-AMD and, thus, decrease the overall societal cost.