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Allergen Immunotherapy | Children with Allergic Rhinitis 

Allergen Immunotherapy Demonstrates Cost Savings among Children with Allergic Rhinitis
Significant Savings Seen within Three Months
By Linda Cox and Cheryl Hankin


In a recent retrospective, matched cohort study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Hankin, Cox, et al. examined 10 years (1997-2007) of Florida Medicaid data to compare health services use and costs between nearly 3,000 children newly diagnosed with allergic rhinitis (AR) who received allergen immunotherapy (IT) to a matched group of approximately 11,000 children with AR who did not receive IT. At 18 months, children with AR who received IT had one third lower total median health care costs than children with AR who did not receive IT ($3,247 versus $4,872, p<0.001).

Outpatient costs were 58% lower (p<0.001) and pharmacy costs were 16% lower (p<0.001) for children who received versus did not receive IT. These significant health care savings were evident as early as 3 months following IT initiation, and increased throughout the study period.

"This is great news, not only for families who will experience fewer out-of-pocket expenses for allergy medications, but also for the ever increasing national health care crisis," said Linda S. Cox, M.D., immediate past chair of the ACAAI Immunotherapy and Diagnostic Committee and study co-author. "Because of the serious medical and economic consequences of childhood allergic rhinitis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment need to be our priority."

“Few patients, health care providers, and insurers may be aware that allergen immunotherapy is the only disease-modifying treatment available for patients with allergic rhinitis,” said Cheryl Hankin, Ph.D., president and chief scientific officer of BioMedEcon, and lead investigator of the study. “Our large-scale, retrospective, comparative effectiveness study of nearly 14,000 children with AR strongly confirms the substantial benefits of IT, which include improved health outcomes as well as reduced health care costs.”

In earlier research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Hankin, Cox, et al. examined patterns of resource use and costs of care in the 6 months preceding versus following IT among children (<18 years) newly diagnosed with AR who were enrolled in Florida Medicaid. There were significant reductions in pharmacy (12.1 vs 8.9 claims, p < .0001), outpatient (30.7 vs 22.9 visits, p < .0001), and inpatient (1.2 vs 0.4 admissions, p = 0.02) use in the 6 months after versus before IT. These reductions in healthcare use resulted in a significant 6-month total cost savings that offset the cost of IT.

Funding for this study was provided by Greer Laboratories.

     
 
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