Non-warfarin oral anticoagulant copayments and adherence in atrial fibrillation: A population-based cohort study

Am Heart J. 2021 Mar;233:109-121. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2020.12.010. Epub 2021 Jan 14.

Abstract

Background: In patients with atrial fibrillation, incomplete adherence to anticoagulants increases risk of stroke. Non-warfarin oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are expensive; we evaluated whether higher copayments are associated with lower NOAC adherence.

Methods: Using a national claims database of commercially-insured patients, we performed a cohort study of patients with atrial fibrillation who newly initiated a NOAC from 2012 to 2018. Patients were stratified into low (<$35), medium ($35-$59), or high (≥$60) copayments and propensity-score weighted based on demographics, insurance characteristics, comorbidities, prior health care utilization, calendar year, and the NOAC received. Follow-up was 1 year, with censoring for switching to a different anticoagulant, undergoing an ablation procedure, disenrolling from the insurance plan, or death. The primary outcome was adherence, measured by proportion of days covered (PDC). Secondary outcomes included NOAC discontinuation (no refill for 30 days after the end of NOAC supply) and switching anticoagulants. We compared PDC using a Kruskal-Wallis test and rates of discontinuation and switching using Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: After weighting patients across the 3 copayment groups, the effective sample size was 17,558 patients, with balance across 50 clinical and demographic covariates (standardized differences <0.1). Mean age was 62 years, 29% of patients were female, and apixaban (43%), and rivaroxaban (38%) were the most common NOACs. Higher copayments were associated with lower adherence (P < .001), with a PDC of 0.82 (Interquartile range [IQR] 0.36-0.98) among those with high copayments, 0.85 (IQR 0.41-0.98) among those with medium copayments, and 0.88 (IQR 0.41-0.99) among those with low copayments. Compared to patients with low copayments, patients with high copayments had higher rates of discontinuation (hazard ratio [HR] 1.13, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08-1.19; P < .001).

Conclusions: Among atrial fibrillation patients newly initiating NOACs, higher copayments in commercial insurance were associated with lower adherence and higher rates of discontinuation in the first year. Policies to lower or limit cost-sharing of important medications may lead to improved adherence and better outcomes among patients receiving NOACs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / economics
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Antithrombins / economics
  • Antithrombins / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dabigatran / economics
  • Dabigatran / therapeutic use
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Deductibles and Coinsurance / economics*
  • Deductibles and Coinsurance / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Costs
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors / economics
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare Part C / statistics & numerical data
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyrazoles / economics
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use
  • Pyridines / economics
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use
  • Pyridones / economics
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use
  • Rivaroxaban / economics
  • Rivaroxaban / therapeutic use
  • Sample Size
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Thiazoles / economics
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use
  • United States
  • Warfarin / economics
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use

Substances

  • Anticoagulants
  • Antithrombins
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyridines
  • Pyridones
  • Thiazoles
  • apixaban
  • Warfarin
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Dabigatran
  • edoxaban