Health care resource utilization and costs associated with restless legs syndrome among managed care enrollees treated with dopamine agonists
Purpose: This study assessed the direct economic burden of restless legs syndrome (RLS) among patients treated with dopamine agonists (DAs) using a large United States managed care database.
Design: Retrospective database analysis.
Methodology: Patients were required to have ?1 prescriptions for a DA (i.e., pergolide, pramipexole, ropinirole) between 1/1/2005 and 12/31/2007 (date of first DA, or “index”); continuous enrollment for ?6 months before and ?12 months after index; >1 diagnosis of RLS, before and after index; and no diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Study measures included annual all-cause and RLS-related costs by care setting (hospitalizations, emergency room, office, pharmacy, other, total) and treatment-pattern events (discontinuations, switches, adjunctive treatments, titrations).
Principal findings: A total of 7,796 patients met the inclusion criteria. About 70% of patients received ropinirole, and 30% received pramipexole at index. Approximately 91% had ?1 RLS-related office visits, and patients filled an average of 6.5 RLS-related prescriptions (DAs, gabapentin, carbidopa/levodopa) during the 1-year follow-up period. Mean (SD) all-cause health care costs were $11,485 ($21,362) per patient, mostly due to multiple medical conditions occurring with RLS. RLS-related costs were 6.7% of total all-cause costs (mean [SD] $774 [$1,504]), consisting of office visits (16%), pharmacy (63%), and other costs (20%). Approximately 58% had a treatment-pattern event suggesting a dopamine-related side effect. Opioids were the most commonly used adjunctive therapy (13% of patients).
Conclusion: We found relatively low costs associated with RLS treatment. These findings should encourage expanding the coverage of treatment to reduce the suffering and costs associated with RLS.