Economic implications of treatment-resistant depression among employees

Greenberg, Paul; Corey-Lisle, Patricia K.; Birnbaum, Howard; Marynchenko, Maryna; Claxton, Ami
April 2004
PharmacoEconomics;2004, Vol. 22 Issue 6, p363
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: Conservative estimates indicate between 10% and 20% of all individuals with major depressive disorders (MDDs) fail to respond to conventional antidepressant therapies. Amongst those with MDD, individuals with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) have been found to be frequent users of healthcare services and to incur significantly greater costs than those without TRD. Given the prevalence of the disorder, it is understandable that MDDs are responsible for a significant amount of both direct and indirect healthcare costs.Objective: To provide empirical findings for employees likely to have TRD based on analysis of employer claims data, in the context of previous research.Methods: We conducted a claims data analysis of employees of a large national (US) employer. The data source consisted of medical, pharmaceutical and disability claims from a Fortune 100 manufacturer for the years 1996-1998 (total beneficiaries >100000). The employee sample included individuals with medical or disability claims for MDDs (n = 1692). A treatment pattern algorithm was applied to classify MDD patients into TRD-likely (n = 180) and TRD-unlikely groups. Treated prevalence of select comorbid conditions and the patient costs (direct and indirect) from the employer perspective by condition were compared among TRD-likely and TRD-unlikely employees, and with a 10% random sample of the overall employee population for 1998.Results: The average annual cost of employees considered TRD-likely was dollars US 14490 per employee, while the cost for depressed but TRD-unlikely employees was dollars US 6665 per employee, and dollars US 4043 for the employee from the random sample. TRD beneficiaries used more than twice as many medical services compared with TRD-unlikely patients, and incurred significantly greater work loss costs.Conclusion: TRD has gained increasing recognition due to both the clinical challenges and economic burdens associated with the condition. TRD imposes a significant economic burden on an employer. TRD-likely employees are more likely to be treated for selected comorbid conditions and have higher medical and work loss costs across all conditions.


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