Characteristics of patients using specialty medications

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Abstract

Background:

Specialty medications include innovative drugs and biologic agents requiring special handling and close monitoring. Although specialty medications have been widely used for various chronic conditions, increased use of these medications has contributed a growing share of total health care expenditures.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to examine patient characteristics related to specialty medication use.

Methods:

Using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data from 2000 through 2013, this study identified U.S. adults using specialty medications. Andersen's Health Services Utilization model was used to identify potential factors related to specialty medication use. Associations between the variables identified by Andersen's model and specialty medication use were analyzed using logistic multilevel modelling. Sampling weights were considered and standard errors were adjusted to account for the complex survey design.

Results:

A fully adjusted model suggested that older adults, individuals with prescription drug insurance, or those using mail order services were more likely to use specialty medications regardless of whether they used traditional medications concurrently. Behaviors of using specialty medications were positively associated with married and active working status and negatively associated with middle or high income and having a usual source of care (visiting a doctor's office, clinic, or health center when sick) when comparing individuals using traditional medications and those using specialty medications. In addition, when comparing individuals using traditional medications with those using both specialty medications and traditional medications, behaviors of using specialty medications were positively associated with female gender, worse health state, and more comorbidities.

Conclusion:

This study identified characteristics of patients using specialty medications. Some sociodemographic, economic, and clinical factors were related to specialty medication use among U.S. adults.

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