Do Biologic Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis Offset Treatment-Related Resource Utilization and Cost? A Review of the Literature and an Instrumental Variable Analysis

File Size147.8 KiB
DateAugust 14, 2017
AuthorBansback N, Fu E, Sun H, Guh D, Zhang W, Lacaille D, Milbers K, Anis AH
Purpose of Review
One justification for using expensive biologic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been that it can reduce future healthcare utilization such as joint surgeries and physician visits. However, the evidence to support this assertion is unclear. We conducted a review of the literature for studies which have analyzed the trends in resource use of RA patients, and then undertook a retrospective observational analysis of a Canadian administrative database using instrumental variable methods.

Recent Findings
Our review found a trend in reduced resource utilization prior to the introduction of biologics and no evidence that biologic therapies have specifically contributed to this reduction. Our observational analysis, which overcame some of the epidemiological challenges with determining the influence of biologics on resource utilization, found a possible reduction in other medications but possible increases rather than decreases in physician visits and hospitalizations. However, our sample was not sufficiently large to make definitive conclusions.

Over 15 years since the introduction of biologics for RA, no evidence exists supporting the assumption that biologic therapies reduce future healthcare utilization. While such a question is challenging to generate evidence for, and so an absence of evidence does not suggest that the hypothesis is incorrect, an instrumental variable analysis using sufficient data could provide definitive evidence.