Ophthalmol Retina 2019 Jan 9;3(1):16-26. Epub 2018 Aug 9.
Department of Ophthalmology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York.
Purpose: A comparison of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medication use across multiple countries.
Clinical Relevance: Anti-VEGF medication use is now considered first-line treatment for numerous retinal diseases globally. Exploring medication choices, costs within each healthcare system, policy challenges, emerging treatments, and patient access all provide insight into a newly recognized and major public health issue.
Methods: All data presented in this review are available through the published English literature in PubMed, non-peer-reviewed trade publications, and reported surveys. The following search terms were used: anti-VEGF OR bevacizumab OR ranibizumab OR aflibercept OR pegaptanib OR conbercept AND trends OR survey OR cost OR patterns OR preference. Countries with large populations and available data included the United States, United Kingdom, China, India, Korea, Singapore, and Australia. Population and economic statistics were obtained from published reports from the World Bank, World Health Organization, and Commonwealth Fund.
Results: Anti-VEGF medication use and costs are significant aspects of patient and healthcare system expenditures in each nation and may have an especially large potential economic burden in India and China. Bevacizumab use comprises the majority of anti-VEGF medication use in the United States and Singapore, although aflibercept use is growing rapidly. Paradoxically, data demonstrate that there is a significant trend in medication choice toward ranibizumab and aflibercept among practice settings outside of the United States, such as the United Kingdom, China, South Korea, and Australia. The price of anti-VEGF medications ranged from US $30 (ziv-aflibercept) to US $1950 (ranibizumab and aflibercept). Ranibizumab's price ranged from US $240 in India to US $1950 in the United States. Conbercept in China costs approximately US $1150 per dose.
Conclusions: Outside of the United States, many nations are using a majority of more expensive anti-VEGF medications, which may lead to increased costs and decreased access. Increasing the availability of safely compounded anti-VEGF medications will likely improve access, create patient/provider choice, and decrease relative healthcare costs for the growing burden of retinal diseases globally.