Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of legal blindness in the United States. Legal blindness results in severe economic hardship due to loss of ability and work. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) is a treatment for wet AMD that improves vision for a prolonged period of up to five years. It is a very costly treatment compared to other options available to patients with wet AMD but offers superior results.
This study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, compares the economic effects of anti-VEGF to other treatments available, focusing on the overall economic condition and options available to patients who have undergone this treatment. The study used information from the available literature on anti-VEGF outcomes to simulate vision outcomes for 168,820 patients with wet AMD aged 65 and older, collected between March 2018 to November 2018.
Patient financial benefits were determined as the total quality-adjusted life years (QALY) multiplied by $150,000, an amount determined by past research on QALY valuation. Treatment cost was averaged and varied for each visit that wet AMD patients require as part of the treatment process. Finally, the measure of societal value was determined as the difference between patient benefits and total costs.
The researchers concluded that anti-VEGF treatment could result in between $5.1 billion to $8.2 billion in patient benefits and $0.9 billion to $3.0 billion in societal value across three years. They emphasize that although anti-VEGF treatment is costly, its benefit of improved visual acuity may confer a significant economic advantage .
Source: Mulligan, K., Seabury, S. A., Dugel, P. U., Blim, J. F., Goldman, D. P., & Humayun, M. S. (2020). Economic Value of Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Treatment for Patients With Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmology, 138(1), 40. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.4557