Burden of treatment-resistant depression in Medicare: A retrospective claims database analysis

PLOS One, 2019


Previous studies have assessed the incremental economic burden of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) versus non-treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (i.e., non-TRD MDD) in commercially-insured and Medicaid-insured patients, but none have focused on Medicare-insured patients.


To assess healthcare resource utilization (HRU) and costs of patients with TRD versus non-TRD MDD or without major depressive disorder (MDD; i.e., non-MDD) in a Medicare-insured population.


Adult patients were retrospectively identified from the Chronic Condition Warehouse de-identified 100% Medicare database (01/2010-12/2016). MDD was defined as ≥1 MDD diagnosis and ≥1 claim for an antidepressant. Patients initiated on a third antidepressant following two antidepressant treatment regimens of adequate dose and duration were considered to have TRD. The index date was defined as the date of the first antidepressant claim for the TRD and non-TRD MDD cohorts, and as a randomly imputed date for the non-MDD cohort. Patients with TRD were matched 1:1 to non-TRD MDD patients and randomly selected non-MDD patients based on propensity scores. Analyses were also performed for a subset of patients aged ≥65.


Of 29,543 patients with MDD, 3,225 (10.9%) met the study definition of TRD; 157,611 were included in the non-MDD cohort. Matched patients with TRD and non-TRD MDD were, on average, 58.9 and 59.0 years old, respectively. The TRD cohort had higher per-patient-per-year (PPPY) HRU than the non-TRD MDD (e.g., inpatient visits: incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 1.36) and non-MDD cohorts (e.g., inpatient visits: IRR = 1.84, all P<0.001). The TRD cohort had significantly higher total PPPY healthcare costs than the non-TRD MDD cohort ($25,517 vs. $20,425, adjusted cost difference = $3,385) and non-MDD cohort ($25,517 vs. $14,542, adjusted cost difference = $4,015, all P<0.001). Similar results were found for the subset of patients ≥65.


Among Medicare-insured patients, those with TRD had higher HRU and costs compared to those with non-TRD MDD and non-MDD.

View abstract


Pilon D, Joshi K, Sheehan JJ, Zichlin ML, Zuckerman P, Lefebvre PGreenberg PE