Obese patients save money on meds after bariatric surgery

By Megan Brooks

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - 26/6/2019

Obese patients spend less on diabetes and hypertension medications after bariatric surgery, according to new research.

"This study provides additional insight into the cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery and really encourages patients, payers and providers to consider it as a suitable treatment option for obesity and obesity-related comorbidities requiring medications," Dr. Naomi Parrella of Rush Medical College in Chicago, who worked on the study, told Reuters Health by email.

The findings were presented June 22 at American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) national clinical symposium, also in Chicago.

Studies have shown that bariatric surgery helps improve or reverse several obesity-related diseases including diabetes and hypertension. Dr. Parrella and colleagues took a look back at data from 210 patients who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy at Rush University Medical Center from 2015 to 2018. All patients were taking medication for diabetes and hypertension prior to surgery.

On average, body mass index (BMI) was 48.2 kg/m2 before bariatric surgery, 40.5 kg/m2 three months after surgery and 38.0 kg/m2 six month after surgery, Dr. Parrella reported.

Prior to surgery, patients spent an average of $225 per month on diabetes medications and $71 on anti-hypertensive medications, based on the standardized pricing guide provided by Drugs.com.

Between three to six months after bariatric surgery, spending on diabetes medications dropped to between $70 and $80 and costs for anti-hypertensive medications were reduced to between $47 and $54.

"Previous studies have also shown a reduction in medication costs after bariatric surgery. Most studies out there, however, tend to focus predominantly on the impact of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on the cost of diabetes medications alone," Dr. Parrella explained in email. "Our study uniquely compares the impact of both Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy on the cost of both diabetes and hypertension medications. The results of our study further highlight the potential for bariatric surgery to significantly curtail obesity-related healthcare costs," she noted.

"This new study adds to the mounting evidence that bariatric surgery is a cost effective treatment option that results in the improvement or resolution of diseases including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure," Dr. Eric J. DeMaria, president of the ASMBS and professor and chief, division of general/bariatric surgery, at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, commented in a news release.

SOURCE: https://asmbsweekend.com/

ASBMS National Clinical Symposium 2019.

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