To determine the healthcare resources utilized and cost of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions pre- and post-azacitidine (AZA) treatment in patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
A retrospective review of 51 MDS patients (3 low-risk, 9 Int-1, 26 Int-2, 13 high-risk) treated with AZA at our center was performed. Patients were followed from 6 months prior to and up to 18 months after initiation of AZA. We audited the clinical response rates and changes in transfusion requirements in higher-risk MDS patients treated with AZA at our tertiary care center. Clinical management information was obtained from our local institution and peripheral hospitals to document transfusion requirements pre- and post-AZA initiation. Health services utilized included transfusions (blood products), hospitalizations and medications. Canadian costs (2012 Canadian $) were applied to resources. The cost of RBC ($1273 per unit) transfusions is presented here.
58.8% of MDS patients were male; 80.4% were ≥65 years. Patients received on average 11 cycles of AZA (IQR 7–17), with 54.9% of individuals receiving 9 or more cycles. Seven (14%) patients stopped AZA prematurely due to progressive disease (5), disease transformation (1), and toxicity (1). Median time to first response with AZA was 3 months; median time to best response was 6 months; and median time to progression was 10 months. Before AZA treatment, 62.7% were considered transfusion dependent (TD); 56% of the TD patients became transfusion independent within 12 months after starting AZA. 32 (62.7%) patients received RBCs six months prior to AZA initiation (mean 11.1 units/6 months; IQR 0–18). At 6 months post-AZA initiation, 41 (80.4%) of patients received RBCs (mean 10.8 units; IQR 1–17.5); between 6–12 months after AZA initiation, 26 (55.3%) patients (mean 7.8 units; IQR 0–11.5; 4 patients excluded for deaths/progression/lack of follow-up); and between 12–18 months, 14 (45.2%) patients (mean 6.7 units, IQR 0–11.5; 20 patients excluded). The cost per patient for RBC transfusions was $14,336 over the six months prior to AZA start, and $14,082, $10,533, $8,912 (1.8%; 35.3%; 62.7% reduction) at 6, 12 and 18 months after AZA initiation, respectively.
At 6 months post-AZA initiation, more MDS patients received transfusions but fewer RBCs were transfused when compared to 6 months prior to AZA. At 12 and 18 months, fewer MDS patients received transfusions and fewer RBCs were used compared to both 6 months pre- and post-AZA administration. At 18 months, there was a 63% reduction in RBC costs from pre-AZA initiation.
Seung:Celgene: Research Funding. Mittmann:Celgene: Research Funding. Wells:Celgene: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; Alexion: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Novartis: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding. Kim:Celgene: Employment. Buckstein:Celgene: Honoraria, Research Funding.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.