Tools used by insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to contain costs for a new class of drugs result in fewer patients using them within 30 days of an atrial fibrillation (AF) diagnosis, according to new research led by Geoffrey Joyce, PhD, director of health policy at USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. AF is a major risk factor for stroke, and historically the anticoagulant warfarin was the standard treatment. However, numerous drug and food interactions make warfarin difficult for patients to tolerate.

A new class of drugs known as non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) has emerged as an alternative that is more effective as well as more tolerable. But it also comes with a higher price tag than warfarin.

The study, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, indicates that efforts to contain costs result in fewer AF patients using NOACs or warfarin within 30 days of a diagnosis — a finding that likely results in adverse health effects for patients.

To continue reading this story, click here.