Higher Drug Prices Can Lower Use of Recommended Therapies

Investigators looked at the association of antiparasitic drug prices with prescribing and prescription-filling behaviors and total outpatient treatment costs.

Price increases of drugs used to treat parasitic infections were associated with lower use of recommended treatments, according to a recent study in JAMA Network Open.

The mean wholesale prices of the antiparasitic drugs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be the standard of care for treating hookworm have increased significantly over the last decade. Investigators in the JAMA study found that the price of Albenza (albendazole) 400 mg increased from $3.16 in 2010 and $582 in 2019, and the price of Emverm (mebendazole) 600 mg increased from $32 in 2010 to $2,853 in 2019.

At the same time, the use of these drug decreased from 43% to 28% of patients for hookworm and from 81% to 28% of patients for pinworm.

The low use of Emverm was associated with its withdrawal from the market in 2014 and 2015. It was reintroduced at a high price in 2016, after which use remained low.

Meanwhile, investigators found that the use of ivermectin, which is less expensive but is not considered effective against hookworm, increased over time.

Data was abstracted from IBM MarketScan Research Databases for patients with private insurance from 2010 to 2018. Standard-of-care (SOC) drugs for hookworm and pinworm include albendazole, mebendazole, and over-the-counter pyrantel pamoate.

Hookworm is a tropical disease that affects about 576 million to 740 million people worldwide, according to the CDC.