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Descriptive analysis of the economic burden of treatment resistance in a major depressive episode

Qian Cai, John J. Sheehan, Bingcao Wu, Larry Alphs, Nancy Connolly, Carmela Benson
Published: 10 October 2019
Current Medical Research and Opinion pp 1-7; doi:10.1080/03007995.2019.1671087

Abstract: Objectives: To assess characteristics and healthcare costs associated with pharmacologically-treated episodes of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Methods: Patients aged ≥18 years with continuous health plan enrollment for ≥12 months before and after a newly observed MDD diagnosis (observed between 1/1/2010 and 12/31/2015) were included in this retrospective claims-based analysis. A pharmacologically-treated episode was defined as beginning at the date of the first MDD diagnosis and ending when a gap of 180 days occurred between MDD diagnoses, or when a gap of 180 days occurred following the end of the antidepressant (AD)/antipsychotic (AP) drug supply. When such a gap occurred, the episode end date was determined to be either the date of the last MDD diagnosis or date of the end of AD/AP drug supply, whichever was later. An episode was considered TRD if ≥3 AD regimens occurred. Episode duration, medication regimens used, and relapse hospitalization were reported for TRD and non-TRD MDD episodes. Total all-cause and per-patient-per-month (PPPM) healthcare costs (in 2016 $) were estimated. Results: Of 48,440 patients identified with ≥1 AD-treated MDD episode, the mean (SD) age was 39 (15) years, and 62% were female. Of all episodes, 7% were TRD, with a mean duration of 571 (285) days vs. 200 (198) days for non-TRD MDD episodes. Mean total all-cause costs were $19,626 ($44,160) for TRD and $7,440 ($25,150) for non-TRD MDD episodes. Conclusions: Results show TRD episodes are longer and costlier than non-TRD MDD episodes, and that higher costs are driven by episode duration. Longer episodes imply protracted suffering for patients with TRD and increased burden on caregivers. Effective intervention to shorten TRD episodes may lessen disease burden and reduce costs.
Keywords: depression / mental health / Psychiatry / Cost of illness / costs and cost analysis / health expenditures

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