Consequences of Insurance Denials Among U.S. Patients Prescribed Repository Corticotropin Injection for Acute Exacerbations of Multiple Sclerosis

Neurology and Therapy, 2020


Repository corticotropin injection (RCI; Acthar® Gel) is indicated for the treatment of acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. Despite the well-documented clinical and economic benefits of RCI, many patients are denied use of the therapy by third-party payers. This study aims to understand the demographic and clinical characteristics of MS relapse patients who received a prescription for RCI from their physicians and then were either approved or denied treatment by their insurers. The study compares measurable clinical outcomes and healthcare resource utilization (HCRU) between approved and denied cohorts.


A retrospective analysis of adults experiencing MS relapse from January 2015 to December 2018 was conducted using a de-identified open-source claims database [Symphony Health Integrated Dataverse® (IDV)]. Patients were identified using ICD codes for MS and considered to have relapsing/remitting type according to established claims-based methodology. Clinical characteristics and HCRU were analyzed during the year preceding ("baseline") and the year following ("follow-up") each patient's index date, defined as the date of a patient's first approved RCI claim (for patients with ≥ 1 approved claim) or first denied RCI claim (for patients with only denied claims). Baseline characteristics were reported with unadjusted differences and p values indicating the significance of characteristics between the two cohorts. For outcomes, match-adjusted results were reported using propensity matching to account for underlying differences between cohorts.


The study sample included 1902 MS relapse patients with at least one claim for RCI. At baseline, approved patients were slightly older compared to denied patients (mean age 48.0 vs. 47.2), had higher rates of hemiplegia/paraplegia (6.7% vs. 3.3%), greater mobility impairment (17% vs. 11.5%), more exacerbation episodes (66.2% vs. 59.9%), and a higher number of physical therapy/rehab claims (23.5 vs. 14.0), respectively. Outcomes among the matched sample show an increased use of corticosteroids for patients denied access to RCI compared to approved patients (51.1% vs. 42.4%), more exacerbation episodes (36.6% vs. 28.2%), and an increased number of physical therapy/rehab claims (11.5% vs. 9.9%), respectively.


The results of this study may aid providers and payers in evaluating scenarios where RCI may be beneficial and improve quality of care for patients experiencing MS relapse.

View abstract


Rice JB, Panaccio MP, White A, Simes M, Billmyer E, Downes N, Niewoehner J, Wan GJ