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Changes in Prescription Drug and Health Care Use Over 9 Years After the Large Drug Price Increase for Colchicine.

Ly DP, Giuriato MA, Song Z. Changes in Prescription Drug and Health Care Use Over 9 Years After the Large Drug Price Increase for Colchicine. JAMA internal medicine. 2023 Jul 1; 183(7):670-676.

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IMPORTANCE: Prescription drug prices are a leading concern among patients and policy makers. There have been large and sharp price increases for some drugs, but the long-term implications of large drug price increases remain poorly understood. OBJECTIVE: To examine the association of the large 2010 price increase in colchicine, a common treatment for gout, with long-term changes in colchicine use, substitution with other drugs, and health care use. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This retrospective cohort study examined MarketScan data from a longitudinal cohort of patients with gout with employer-sponsored insurance from 2007 through 2019. EXPOSURES: The US Food and Drug Administration's discontinuation of lower-priced versions of colchicine from the market in 2010. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Mean price of colchicine; use of colchicine, allopurinol, and oral corticosteroids; and emergency department (ED) and rheumatology visits for gout in year 1 and over the first decade of the policy (through 2019) were calculated. Data were analyzed between November 16, 2021, and January 17, 2023. RESULTS: A total of 2?723?327 patient-year observations were examined from 2007 through 2019 (mean [SD] age of patients, 57.0 [13.8] years; 20.9% documented as female; 79.1% documented as male). The mean price per prescription of colchicine increased sharply from $11.25 (95% CI, $11.23-$11.28) in 2009 to $190.49 (95% CI, $190.07-$190.91) in 2011, a 15.9-fold increase, with the mean out-of-pocket price increasing 4.4-fold from $7.37 (95% CI, $7.37-$7.38) to $39.49 (95% CI, $39.42-$39.56). At the same time, colchicine use declined from 35.0 (95% CI, 34.6-35.5) to 27.3 (95% CI, 26.9-27.6) pills per patient in year 1 and to 22.6 (95% CI, 22.2-23.0) pills per patient in 2019. Adjusted analyses showed a 16.7% reduction in year 1 and a 27.0% reduction over the decade (P? < .001). Meanwhile, adjusted allopurinol use rose by 7.8 (95% CI, 6.9-8.7) pills per patient in year 1, a 7.6% increase from baseline, and by 33.1 (95% CI, 32.6-33.7) pills per patient through 2019, a 32.0% increase from baseline over the decade (P? < .001). Moreover, adjusted oral corticosteroid use exhibited no significant change in the first year, then increased by 1.5 (95% CI, 1.3-1.7) pills per patient through 2019, an 8.3% increase from baseline over the decade. Adjusted ED visits for gout rose by 0.02 (95% CI, 0.02-0.03) per patient in year 1, a 21.5% increase, and by 0.05 (95% CI, 0.04-0.05) per patient through 2019, a 39.8% increase over the decade (P? < .001). Adjusted rheumatology visits for gout increased by 0.02 (95% CI, 0.02-0.03) per patient through 2019, a 10.5% increase over the decade (P? < .001). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cohort study among individuals with gout, the large increase in colchicine prices in 2010 was associated with an immediate decrease in colchicine use that persisted over approximately a decade. Substitution with allopurinol and oral corticosteroids was also evident. Increased ED and rheumatology visits for gout over the same period suggest poorer disease control.

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