Objective: To evaluate the daily cost of beta-blocker therapy among commercially available products.
Methods: Ten different beta-adrenergic blocker preparations, each in 10-mL bottles (except Timoptic-XE [Merck brand of timolol maleate gel-forming solution], which was in a 5-mL bottle), were acquired from a local pharmacy. Each of 10 subjects dispensed 10 drops from each bottle onto an analytical scale. The mean drop volume for each preparation was then calculated. The fill volume of each bottle and the amount of each medicine that was wasted upon dispensing also were determined. Additionally, 60 pharmacies in the United States were randomly chosen to determine the average cost of each preparation studied. Based on all data obtained, an average daily cost of each medicine was calculated.
Results: The generic formulation of timolol maleate (Falcon) ($0.55) and Betimol (Ciba Vision Ophthalmics brand of timolol hemihydrate) ($0.57) demonstrated the lowest cost per day of therapy. In contrast, Betoptic-S (Alcon brand of betaxolol hydrochloride) ($1.60) and Betagan (Allergan brand of levobunonol hydrochloride) ($1.35) had the highest daily cost of therapy. Ocupress (Otsuka America brand of carteolol hydrochloride) had the smallest drop volume (31 microL) and Timoptic-XE had the highest (49 microL). Most preparations were close to their stated bottle fill volume. The amount of wasted medicine varied and was least with Ocupress (27%) and greatest with Betoptic-S (54%). The mean pharmacy price for a 10-mL bottle was lowest for OptiPranolol (Bausch & Lomb brand of metipranolol) ($25.51) and Betimol ($28.28); Betoptic-S ($44.80) and Betagan ($43.67) were the most expensive.
Conclusion: Although all commercially available beta-adrenergic blockers effectively lower intraocular pressure, one differential factor between medicines is cost, which may be influenced by the price at the pharmacy, volume of medication per bottle, drop size, and medicine wastage.