Diabetic patients diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy had lower medical costs and reduced use of anticonvulsant medications when treated with a folate-enriched prescription medical food, according to data presented today at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research 12th Annual European Congress.
The results of the HealthCore, Inc. study, funded by Pamlab, L.L.C., which manufactures the medical food Metanx-, showed that patients' health plan costs to treat diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy were reduced by about $400 a year.
"In this study, health care savings were driven by lower costs related to hospitalization and outpatient services," said Ron Wade, lead researcher and research operations director for HealthCore, the outcomes research subsidiary for WellPoint, Inc. "Overall, this was more than a 30 percent reduction in costs for medical care related to diabetic peripheral neuropathy."
The study, "Administrative Claims Analysis of an L-Methylfolate Combination Product in Patients with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy," was co-authored by Wade and Qian Cai of HealthCore and Dr. Tina Thethi, assistant professor of endocrinology, Tulane School of Medicine. The abstract for this study was published in the Sept. 15 online edition of Value in Health.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves usually affecting the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, tingling and pain. Anticonvulsant medication is commonly used to control these symptoms.
The HealthCore study found that the group of patients prescribed Metanx tablets reduced their use of anticonvulsants by 31 percent one year after treatment, compared with the control group that reduced their use by 10 percent.
Metanx contains L-methylfolate, pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, and methylcobalmin and has been shown in pilot studies to increase epidermal nerve fiber density in humans, restore sensation and reduce neuropathic pain by increasing nitric oxide levels, which improves endothelial function and increases blood flow to the nerves in the hands and feet.
"From clinical trials, we are seeing what Metanx can do clinically, but it is also reassuring to know that in this time of soaring health care costs that Metanx may help reduce costs related to patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy," said Chet Busby, head of Pamlab's scientific affairs.