Background: High and increasing drug prices have prompted the establishment of a broad range of cost-containment treatment policies in health systems globally. In 2012, the supplemental insurance program of a large Israeli health maintenance organization (Clalit Health Services) introduced a prior authorization process for second-line use of ranibizumab in patients with retinal disease for whom treatment with bevacizumab proved to be ineffective. A Clalit steering committee established authorization criteria based on cost and periodically updated clinical considerations, while a team of ophthalmic specialists evaluated their colleagues’ individual patient subsidization requests, based on the funding criteria. The objectives of this study were to detail this unique authorization process and study its effectiveness in limiting unwarranted spending, while allowing for a smooth transition to a second-line more expensive drug when needed. Methods: A retrospective cohort study including all applications for a first or ongoing treatment with ranibizumab, for one or both eyes, received during March 1, 2012 - December 31, 2015. The key parameters examined were percentages of requests from patients treated by first line treatment bevacizumab, requests approved, reapplications, and results. Requests studied include reapplications and requests for treatment continuation. Results: During the study period, Clalit affiliated ophthalmologists’ submitted 16,778 funding applications for intravitreal ranibizumab treatment on behalf of 5642 patients who applied for approximately three applications. An efficient sentinel effect was achieved, resulting in only 31% of patients treated with bevacizumab applying for treatment, while maintaining extremely high accessibility to second line treatment with almost 95% of requests being approved. Conclusions: The data presented shows a low request rate for funding with a high approval rate, proving this peer reviewed report-based authorization process successfully achieved a sentinel effect while controlling cost. We suggest this innovative model be considered in similar decisions processes.
- Ethical dilemma
- Health maintenance organization
- Retinal disease