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Original Investigation
June 20, 2019

Analysis of Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Injection Claims Data in US Medicare Part B Beneficiaries From 2012 to 2015

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(8):921-928. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.1971
Key Points

Question  How has use of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor agents changed over time?

Findings  In this cohort study of US Medicare Part B beneficiaries nationally, aflibercept injections increased by 69.4% from 2013 to 2015. By 2015, the 100 ophthalmologists performing the highest volume of ranibizumab injections, as gauged by number of injections administered, accounted for 31.0% of all ranibizumab injections performed nationally, while the 100 ophthalmologists performing the highest volume of aflibercept injections accounted for 17.6% of all aflibercept injections, and the 100 ophthalmologists performing the highest volume of bevacizumab injections accounted for 19.6% of all bevacizumab injections.

Meaning  The frequency of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor injection has been increasing from 2013 to 2015; throughout this time, a small portion of ophthalmologists accounted for a large share of the national use.

Abstract

Importance  The frequency of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections has grown exponentially with the introduction of bevacizumab, ranibizumab, and most recently aflibercept. The cost associated with these medications has garnered significant national attention, warranting a granular analysis of their use.

Objective  To analyze trends in anti-VEGF injections for US Medicare Part B beneficiaries from 2012 to 2015.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This observational cohort study used 2012-2015 data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Medicare Part B Provider Utilization Files to analyze trends in intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF medications among Medicare Part B beneficiaries and their health care professionals.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome measure was distribution of and change over time in the number of anti-VEGF injections performed for ranibizumab, aflibercept, and bevacizumab.

Results  A total of 2 574 124 intravitreal injections were performed by 3348 ophthalmologists in the outpatient setting for Medicare Part B beneficiaries during the 2015 calendar year; 100 ophthalmologists (3.0%) performed the highest volume of intravitreal injections. The total number of intravitreal injections administered in 2015 was 870 843 for aflibercept, 697 412 for ranibizumab, and 1 147 432 for bevacizumab. Ranibizumab injections decreased by 7.1% from 2012 to 2015 and bevacizumab injections decreased by 17.1%. From 2013 to 2015, aflibercept injections increased by 69.4%. The 100 ophthalmologists performing the highest volume of ranibizumab injections, as gauged by number of injections administered, accounted for 31.0% (95% CI, 30.994%-30.997%) of all ranibizumab injections nationally. The 100 ophthalmologists performing the highest volume of aflibercept injections accounted for 17.6% (95% CI, 17.638%-17.641%) of all aflibercept injections and the 100 ophthalmologists performing the highest volume of bevacizumab injections accounted for 19.6% (95% CI, 19.649%-19.653%) of all bevacizumab injections administered nationally to Medicare Part B beneficiaries. The highest number of injections per 1000 Medicare Part B beneficiaries occurred in Nebraska (aflibercept), Tennessee (ranibizumab), and South Dakota (bevacizumab).

Conclusions and Relevance  A total of 3.0% of ophthalmologists account for 17.6% to 31.0% of the total number of anti-VEGF injections administered nationally in the Medicare Part B population. Overall, bevacizumab and ranibizumab injections have decreased, coinciding with a 69.4% increase in aflibercept injections.

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