Toronto, ON, Canada – Biologic therapies are an expensive group of drugs increasingly being used to treat inflammatory diseases in children and adults. Coverage in publicly-financed drug plans has been inconsistent and, at a cost of over $17,000 per year, these drugs can be prohibitively expensive for families with no drug coverage. Even families with private drug plans may face significant co-payments and deductibles which can affect use.
In a new study led by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, researchers found that parents of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) were very willing to pay for biologic medications that would improve pain relief for the child and allow for better participation in daily activities. In fact, parents were willing to pay up to $2,080 more per month for biologics compared to standard treatment, a drug called methotrexate.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints. It is a debilitating disease affecting one in 1000 children causing pain and stiffness. When left untreated, JIA can lead to permanent joint damage and disability.
The study assessed parents’ willingness to pay for biologic and non-biologic drugs used to treat their child’s disease. The researchers conducted a survey of 105 parents of children with JIA to determine their preferences for treatment characteristics related to pain, participation in daily activities, side effects, days missed from school, drug administration, and cost.
“Understanding parents’ preference in terms of willingness-to-pay is essential for ensuring that our private and public health plans meet the needs of paediatric patients, and are equitable for all members of society. Treating children with disabling conditions with effective treatments early in the course of disease will enable these children to live healthier and happier lives as adults. Early intervention can also be very cost-effective over the long-term by reducing disability,” says Dr. Wendy Ungar, principal investigator of the study, and Senior Scientist in Child Health Evaluative Science at SickKids.
The full study, “Parents’ Willingness to Pay for Biologic Treatments in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis,” is published in Value in Health.