Patients using anti-TNF specialty drugs to treat RA and Crohn’s aren’t aware of treatment choices

HealthCore study published in American Health & Drug Benefits finds
half of all patients don’t discuss options with their doctor

Wilmington, Del.—May 5, 2014—A survey of patients using anti-TNF drugs to treat chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, showed that less than half had discussed alternative treatment options, such as infusion or injection at home, according to a study published today in American Health & Drug Benefits.

The survey, developed and administered by HealthCore, an outcomes research group and independent WellPoint subsidiary, was used by the national health insurer to develop a program to reach out to members of its affiliated health plans and inform them of their options.

Generally, infusion anti-TNFs are administered at a hospital outpatient or physician provider site but there are also options for administration within the home. Some injectables can be self- administered at home. Prior studies have shown that there aren’t clinical outcome advantages to infusing specialty drugs at a facility compared to home-based infusion.

“Making these kinds of choices about where their drug is administered and the method of receiving their drug can be empowering for the consumer,” said Dr. Alex Ruggieri, co-author on the study and WellPoint medical director for pharmacy services. “The member stories have been illuminating. At least one member saved himself the inconvenience of a four-hour round trip every few weeks when due for his infusion. For some, these choices could make a difference in their overall annual out-of-pocket expenses.”

Hospital infusions can cost much more than those performed at home or in a physician’s office. For example, WellPoint data from its affiliated health plans in 2013 shows that the average amount for intravenous infusion of Remicade at the hospital is about $7,300, while intravenous infusion is about $3,800 in the home and $3,600 in the physician’s office.

Survey participants were asked about their use of anti-TNF agents, locations of administration, preferences for IV or self-injected therapy, interest in anti-TNF home therapy options, and their physician’s role in their decision-making process.

Forty-six percent of patients receiving IV medications liked the home administration option, but only 1.5 percent of the total group were using it.

The survey showed that less than 50 percent of those responding discussed alternative anti-TNF options with their physicians, despite a desire for better communication.

“The survey explained to us why so many members weren’t choosing a more convenient, or potentially less costly route or site of therapy – they didn’t know they had a choice,” Ruggieri said.

Patients still reported high satisfaction with anti-TNFs’ effectiveness, convenience, and lack of side effects.

“The survey pointed out to us that patients and their doctors are missing out on some important treatment conversations,” said Andrea DeVries, HealthCore director of payer and provider research. “Regardless of what methods or therapies they both decide on, it’s important to talk about it so the right decision for that patient can be made.”

Not surprising, physicians were by far the most common source of information about anti-TNF choices and options for both groups, with approximately 90 percent of patients listing their physician as one of the three sources from which they learned about their anti-TNFs.

About HealthCore, Inc.
HealthCore, based in Wilmington, Del., is the clinical outcomes research subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. HealthCore has a team of highly experienced researchers including physicians, biostatisticians, pharmacists, epidemiologists, health economists and other scientists who study the “real world” safety and effectiveness of drugs, medical devices and care management interventions. HealthCore offers insight on how to best use this data and communicates these findings to health care decision-makers to support evidence-based medicine, product development decisions, safety monitoring, coverage decisions, process improvement and overall cost-effective health care. For more information, go to

Media contact:

Lori McLaughlin, moc.tniopllew@2nilhgualcm.irol, 317.407.7403

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