Switching to less expensive blindness drug could save Medicare Part B $18 billion over a ten-year period

June, 2014

The biologic drugs bevacizumab and ranibizumab have revolutionized treatment of diabetic macular edema and neovascular age-related macular degeneration. The two drugs have similar efficacy and potentially minor differences in adverse-event rates; however, at $2,023 per dose, ranibizumab costs forty times more than bevacizumab. We showed that if all patients were treated with the less expensive bevacizumab instead of current usage patterns, savings would amount to $18 billion for Medicare Part B and nearly $5 billion for patients. With an additional $6 billion savings in other health care expenses, the total savings would be almost $29 billion. Altering patterns of use with these therapies would dramatically reduce spending without substantially affecting patient outcomes.

CITATION: Hutton D, Newman-Casey PA, Tavag M, Zacks D, Stein J. Switching to less expensive blindness drug could save medicare part B $18 billion over a ten-year period. Health Aff (Millwood). 2014 Jun;33(6):931-9.

DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0832

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