The Cost of Transplant Immunosuppressant Therapy: Is This Sustainable?

Curr Transplant Rep. 2015 Jun 1;2(2):113-121. doi: 10.1007/s40472-015-0052-y.


A solid organ transplant is life-saving therapy that engenders the use of immunosuppressive medications for the lifetime of the transplanted organ and its recipient. Conventional therapy includes both induction therapy (a biologic that is infused peri-operatively) followed by maintenance therapy. The cost of these medications is a constant concern and the advent of generics has brought this cost down modestly. For those lacking long term insurance coverage, this may be a significant out of pocket expense that is not affordable. Moreover, transplant Centers are managing higher risk transplant recipients that require more complex induction regimens and longer term use of such biologic agents in the context of desensitization or abrogation of de novo antibody mediated injury. While in kidney transplantation, Medicare part B covers three years of medication, there is frequent non-adherence due to cost after that time-point. The impact of the Affordable Care Act remains uncertain at this time. Finally the pipeline of new therapies is limited due to the cost of development of a drug, the inherent cost of clinical studies, and lack of defined endpoints for newer therapies in high risk patients. These new therapies are of high value to the community but will contribute additional burden to current drug costs.

Keywords: cost; immunosuppression; kidney; outcome; transplantation.