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Curr Med Res Opin. 2011 Jan;27(1):179-88. doi: 10.1185/03007995.2010.540006. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

Comparing costs and absences for multiple sclerosis among US employees: pre- and post-treatment initiation.

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Biogen Idec, Cambridge, MA, USA.



Limited data exist on the effects of Disease Modifying Treatments (DMTs) on direct and indirect costs among employees treated for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The objective was to compare costs and absences among employees treated with DMTs (e.g., interferons [IFNs]: IFN-β1a-IM = Avonex = 'A', IFN-β1b = Betaseron = 'B', IFN-β1a-SC = Rebif = 'R', or glatiramer acetate = Copaxone = 'C') for MS pre and post therapy initiation.


A healthcare claims database of US employees (2001-2008) was used to identify patients with two or more DMT prescriptions or one DMT prescription with a MS diagnosis (ICD-9 = 340.X) who were continuously employed and with health plan coverage 6 months pre and post DMT initialization. Outcome measures included: direct costs; indirect costs and absences associated with sick leave (SL) and short-term disability (STD); and medical costs and utilization by place of service (POS). All costs are inflation-adjusted to 2010 US$. Between- and within-group outcomes were compared using Student's t-tests for continuous and chi-square tests for discrete variables and considered significant when P ≤ 0.05.


Overall, 153 eligible employees were identified: 'A' = 68, 'B' = 22, 'R' = 21, 'C' = 42; 76 employees had SL eligibility; 89 had STD eligibility; and 97 employees had POS indicators. Following treatment initiation, healthcare costs decreased significantly for 'A' users (-53.8%, -$3084) and 'B' users (-67.1%, -$4103), while SL costs only decreased significantly for 'A' users (-60.5%, -$704); changes in SL absence days for 'A' and 'B' users were significantly lower than for 'C' users (both P < 0.05). In the POS sample, total medical costs significantly decreased for 'A' (-$3643), 'B' (-$3470), and 'C' (-$3762), while 'R' increased ($2093) non-significantly. Only 'A' users had significant proportion-of-care reductions (Emergency Department, Outpatient Hospital, and 'Other' locations).


Among MS employees treated with DMTs in the real-world, 'A' and 'B' users had significantly greater reductions in SL costs post therapy initiation compared with 'C' and 'R'. Only 'A' users showed a significant reduction in SL absence days, while the other cohorts reported increases.


Small sample sizes may limit the interpretability of these results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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