All-cause health care resource utilization and costs among adults with alopecia areata: A retrospective claims database study in the United States

Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy, 2022


Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by hair loss. Patients may present with hair loss of the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and/or body. Alopecia totalis (AT), total scalp hair loss, or alopecia universalis (AU), total body hair loss, are extensive forms. Although the impact of AA on quality of life is understood, evidence of its economic burden is limited. A better understanding of the all-cause health care costs for health plans and patients with AA is critical to comprehend disease burden.


To evaluate all-cause health care resource utilization and direct health care costs in US adults with AA with or without AT or AU, vs matched control subjects.


Patients (≥ 18 years) with AA with no less than 2 claims of AA at diagnosis (October 31, 2015, to March 3, 2018) were identified in the IBM MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters and Medicare Supplemental databases. Patients were enrolled no less than 12 months before and after first diagnosis (index). Patients were grouped according to AT or AU status (AT/AU group) or AA without AT/AU (non-AT/AU group) and matched 1:3 to control subjects without AA/AT/AU. Summary statistics were calculated for demographic and clinical characteristics at baseline and follow-up.


At baseline, there were 14,972 adult patients with AA and 44,916 control subjects. Of patients with AA, 1,250 and 13,722 were in the AT/AU and non-AT/AU groups, respectively. A significantly greater proportion of patients with AA had atopic and autoimmune comorbidities vs control subjects. After index, patients with AA used significantly more corticosteroid treatments (injectable/oral/topical) than control subjects. A greater mean number of annual outpatient and dermatologist visits was observed for both AA groups vs control subjects (outpatient visits: AT/AU group: 17.8 vs 11.8; non-AT/AU group: 15.4 vs 11.2; dermatologist visits: AT/AU group: 3.4 vs 0.4; non-AT/AU group: 3.4 vs 0.4; P < 0.001 for all). Mean total all-cause medical and pharmacy costs (2018 US$) were higher in both AA groups vs control subjects (AT/AU group: $18,988 vs $11,030; non-AT/AU group: $13,686 vs $9,336; P < 0.001 for both). Patient out-of-pocket costs were higher for AA vs control subjects (AT/AU group: $2,685 vs $1,457; non-AT/AU group: $2,223 vs $1,341; P < 0.001 for both).


Compared with control subjects, patients with AA are more likely to have atopic and autoimmune comorbidities, to use corticosteroids, and to make outpatient visits. Patients with AA have greater all-cause medical (including pharmacy) and out-of-pocket costs. The difference in total medical costs for patients with AT/AU vs control subjects is higher than the difference for patients with non-AT/AU vs control subjects.

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Mostaghimi A, Gandhi K, Done N, Ray M, Gao W, Carley C, Wang T, Swallow E, Sikirica V