The Cost of Seeing

A&M study uncovers price disparities and differences in price increases for glaucoma treatments

(RxWiki News) Researchers from the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine have found significant price differences and differences in price increases for glaucoma treatments in a new study.

Researchers compared brand-name and generic formulations of four classes of drugs -- beta-blockers, prostaglandins, α2-agonists and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.

They found beta-blockers were the most inexpensive class of glaucoma medication.

For all medications, yearly costs ranged from $150.81 for generic beta-blocker timolol maleate (.5 percent), to $873.98 for a three-times-daily dose of Alphagan P (.15 percent), an α2-agonist.

Annual costs of prostaglandin drugs ranged from $427.69 for Travatan to $577.62 for Lumigan.

Azopt and Trusopt, two carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, both turned up similar economic profiles, while the generic selective α2-agonist brimonidine tartrate (.2 percent) costs about $352.89 and $529.34 per year for the two or three-times daily prescription dosages.

Researchers found beta-blocker Betoptic S increased nearly 100 percent in cost from 1999 to 2006, while Timoptic, another beta-blocker, increased only 11.7 percent in the same time frame.

President of OMNI Eye Services, Dr. Christopher Quinn, said, “As with any chronic disease that requires long term treatment, cost is an important factor-- particularly when it comes to compliance. In the treatment of glaucoma however, different medications are used to individualize treatment for each patient depending on the type of glaucoma they have and their other medical conditions. A true 'apples to apples' comparison of cost is not possible across different classes of drug.“

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Review Date: 
February 8, 2011