Objectives: This study examines the evolutionary impact of valsartan initiation on medical costs.
Methods: A retrospective time series study design was used with a large, US national commercial claims database for the period of 2004-2008. Hypertensive patients who initiated valsartan between the ages of 18 and 63, and had continuous enrollment for 24-month pre-initiation period and 24-month post-initiation period were selected. Patients' monthly medical costs were calculated based on individual claims. A novel time series model was devised with monthly medical costs as its dependent variables, autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) as its stochastic components, and four indicative variables as its decomposed interventional components. The number of post-initiation months before a cost-offset point was also assessed.
Results: Patients (n = 18,269) had mean age of 53 at the initiation date, and 53% of them were female. The most common co-morbid conditions were dyslipidemia (52%), diabetes (24%), and hypertensive complications (17%). The time series model suggests that medical costs were increasing by approximately $10 per month (p < 0.01) before the initiation, and decreasing by approximately $6 per month (p < 0.01) after the initiation. After the 4th post-initiation month, medical costs for patients with the initiation were statistically significantly lower (p < 0.01) than forecasted medical costs for the same patients without the initiation.
Limitations: The study has its limitations in data representativeness, ability to collect unrecorded clinical conditions, treatments, and costs, as well as its generalizability to patients with different characteristics.
Conclusions: Commercially insured hypertensive patients experienced monthly medical cost increase before valsartan initiation. Based on our model, the evolutionary impact of the initiation on medical costs included a temporary cost surge, a gradual, consistent, and statistically significant cost decrease, and a cost-offset point around the 4th post-initiation month.