This study examines real-world drug utilization patterns, health care resource use, and costs among patients receiving adjuvant treatment with IFN versus patients receiving no treatment ("observation") for malignant melanoma following surgery.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted using administrative claims from Truven Health Analytics (MarketScan(®)) to identify all adjuvant melanoma patients (aged ≥18 years) diagnosed between June 2007 and June 2011 who had a lymph node dissection (ie, index surgery) and were treated with IFN or subsequently observed. Health care resource use and costs of services were converted to 2012 US dollars and were evaluated and compared using multivariable regression.
Of 1,999 eligible subjects with melanoma surgery claims, 179 (9.0%) were treated with IFN and 1,820 (91.0%) were observed. The median duration (days) and number of doses of IFN therapy were 73 and 36, respectively. Among IFN-treated patients, only 10.6% completed ≥80% of maintenance therapy. The total average cost for patients treated with IFN was US$60,755±$3,972 (n=179); significantly higher than for patients undergoing observation ($31,641±$2,471; P<0.0001). Similar trends were observed when evaluating total cost components, including melanoma-related and non-melanoma-related medical costs. Among the melanoma-related medical costs, outpatient services, including office visits and laboratory testing, represented between 33% and 53% of total costs and demonstrated the largest difference between IFN-treated and observation patients. Outpatient service costs for IFN-treated patients were $32,414±$2,498, over three times greater than those for observation patients ($10,556±$1,128; P<0.0001).
The majority of adjuvant melanoma patients in this study was treated with observation versus IFN treatment. Among those who attempted IFN treatment, most could not complete the recommended course of therapy. Health care costs were significantly greater for patients treated with IFN, with the greatest differences being for melanoma-related medical cost components. These findings illustrate the significant economic burden borne by adjuvant melanoma patients and their health insurers.