Study: Veltassa Lowers Overall Health Care Costs

The potassium-lowering agent was associated with a 20% relative reduction in costs related to outpatient, inpatient, and emergency department visits.

The potassium-lowering agent Veltassa (patiromer) was associated with a reduction in inpatient and emergency department visits, lowering total overall spending, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Economics.

Among Medicare Advantage patients with hyperkalemia, or high potassium levels, investigators found that patients taking Veltassa were about 50% less likely to incur inpatient costs greater than or equal to the mean inpatient cost for Medicare Advantage patients ($14,900).

When the cost of therapy is considered, use of Veltassa was associated with about 20% relative reduction in total health care expenditures, which included costs for outpatient, inpatient, and emergency department visits.

Veltassa, developed by Vifor Pharma, is a sodium-free potassium binder approved for the treatment of hyperkalemia. It acts within the gastrointestinal tract, binding to potassium in exchange for calcium in the colon.

This study used real-world data from Optum’s Clinformatics Data Mart and included health care insurance claims for participants enrolled in commercial and Medicare Advantage plans in the United States. Clinformatics contains de-identified health care data on participant enrollment, demographics, inpatient and outpatient medical services, diagnostic and laboratory services, laboratory results for tests, and inpatient and outpatient pharmacy claims.

The study was conducted from January 2016 to December 2019. Patients with at least episode of hyperkalemia who were prescribed Veltassa were matched with a cohort of patients who didn’t receive Veltassa or other potassium binding therapies.

The true incidence and prevalence of hyperkalemia is not known, but it has been estimated to be 2% to 3% in the general population and 1% to 10% among hospitalized patients. People with chronic kidney disease, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, and those taking blood pressure medicines called renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors have an estimated 2 to 3 times higher risk for hyperkalemia.

Veltassa was approved by the FDA in 2015 and by the EMA in 2017.