Cost-effective approaches to the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia in the era of resistance

Kuti, J.L.; Capitano, B.; Nicolau, D.P.; Kuti, Joseph L; Capitano, Blair; Nicolau, David P
June 2002
PharmacoEconomics;2002, Vol. 20 Issue 8, p513
Academic Journal
journal article
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) infects upwards of four million people in the US each year, of which 20% require subsequent hospitalisation. Consequently, it is a large contributor to excessive healthcare resource consumption and cost. Since the aetiology of CAP is not identified in a majority of patients, treatment is often empiric, aimed at the most common causes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and the atypical pathogens (Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae and Legionella pneumophila). A variety of pharmaceutical agents exist for the treatment of CAP, most notably the cephalosporin and penicillin derivatives, the macrolide/azalide antibacterials, the newer tetracyclines, and most recently the respiratory fluoroquinolones. Choosing an agent is usually related to issues such as patient compliance, adverse event profiles, and the presence of resistance. Of these, resistance seems to be the main factor today. S. pneumoniae, the most common cause of CAP, is steadily acquiring resistance to a majority of the currently available antibacterials, thus further increasing costs due to prolonged hospitalisation, treatment of relapses and the use of more expensive antibacterials. Understanding and maximising the pharmacodynamic properties of the available antibacterials will not only prevent the emergence of resistance, thus prolonging their clinical utility, but also reduce the costs associated with treating the infection through rapid symptom improvement and earlier patient discharge. Numerous methods for reducing costs in patients with bacterial infections are documented in the literature and can be applied to CAP. Choosing monotherapy instead of combination therapy can reduce costs associated with the administration of the antibacterial. Agents with longer half-lives allow for once-daily administration, which in turn, leads to improved compliance, successful outcomes, and decreased costs. Administering antibacterials to maximise their pharmacodynamics, such as with continuous infusion of β-lactams, reduces the amount of drug needed in addition to savings associated with administration and supplies. Finally, transitioning patients to oral therapy as soon as they are clinically stable can significantly reduce the length of hospital stay, which is the major contributing factor of healthcare costs. The use of a clinical pathway in an institution is the most effective way to apply these cost-saving approaches in the treatment of CAP. These pathways should be specific to each institution, thus considering the resistance rates in the area and encouraging the use of the most active, cost-effective agents to produce rapid, positive clinical outcomes.


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