Anemia is common in several patient populations, including those with chronic kidney disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS, and may require treatment with erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs). Given the potential risks of the ESA, epoetin, and the significant costs associated with this agent, a large teaching medical institution developed a the drug-utilization management program using evidence-based guidelines on appropriate use.
This study was designed to determine the clinical and financial impact of the drug-utilization management program.
This retrospective cohort study was conducted at the medical institution that implemented the program using clinical pharmacists. Patients were included if epoetin was administered during their hospital stay (evaluation period, December 1, 2010, to December 31, 2011). The rate of inappropriate epoetin prescribing and the economic impact of guideline implementation were evaluated using comparisons of data from cohorts prescribed epoetin before and after guideline implementation.
Data from 796 patients were included in the analyses (pre-implementation, 496; post-implementation, 300). The proportion of patients prescribed epoetin was significantly smaller after guideline implementation (2.4% vs 1.6%; P < 0.001). The reduction in the total number of epoetin units administered was 45%. The significant reduction (25%) in inappropriate prescribing after guideline implementation was primarily attributed to a 17% decrease in epoetin use in nonspecific anemia. The reduction in inappropriate epoetin prescribing translated into a 23.8% reduction in costs (P < 0.001) associated with inappropriate epoetin use. The estimated annual cost-savings of this program was $198,352 ($16,529/mo).
The implementation of a drug-utilization management program using clinical pharmacists who evaluated epoetin was associated with a decrease in inappropriate epoetin prescribing and with significant cost-savings.
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