Intensive care unit drug costs in the context of total hospital drug expenditures with suggestions for targeted cost containment efforts

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Purpose:To assess costs of intensive care unit (ICU) related pharmacotherapy relative to hospital drug expenditures, and to identify potential targets for cost-effectiveness investigations. We offer the unique advantage of comparing ICU drug costs with previously published data a decade earlier to describe changes over time.Materials and methods:Financial transactions for all ICU patients during fiscal years (FY) 2009–2012 were retrieved from the hospital's data repository. ICU drug costs were evaluated for each FY. ICU departments' charges were also retrieved and calculated as percentages of total ICU charges.Results:Albumin, prismasate (dialysate), voriconazole, factor VII and alteplase denoted the highest percentages of ICU drug costs. ICU drug costs contributed to an average of 31% (SD 1.0%) of the hospital's total drug costs. ICU drug costs per patient day increased by 5.8% yearly versus 7.8% yearly for non-ICU drugs. This rate was higher for ICU drugs costs at 12% a decade previous. Pharmacy charges contributed to 17.7% of the total ICU charges.Conclusions:Growth rates of costs per year have declined but still drug expenditures in the ICU are consistently a significant driver in this resource intensive environment with a high impact on hospital drug expenditures.HighlightsDrug cost contributes to a significant portion of total ICU and hospital drug costs.The trend in ICU drugs costs has declined over time for this single site evaluation.Continuous drug cost evaluations could illuminate trends and strategies for management.

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