Purpose To examine demographic and geographic variation in the use of ranibizumab and bevacizumab for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among Medicare beneficiaries. Design Retrospective cohort study. Methods Using a 100% sample of Medicare claims data, we evaluated Medicare beneficiaries (N = 195 812) with an index claim for neovascular AMD between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2009, to determine whether beneficiaries first received ranibizumab or bevacizumab following initial diagnosis. Results The overall proportion of beneficiaries that first received ranibizumab for neovascular AMD was 35%, and varied significantly (0.9%–84.6%) across the 306 US hospital referral regions (median = 33%, interquartile range = 17%–49%). Based on hierarchical logistic regression models, the likelihood of receiving ranibizumab declined over time (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) comparing treatment in 2009 vs 2006 = 0.39, P < .001). After we controlled for year of treatment, black beneficiaries were 45% less likely to receive ranibizumab compared to non-blacks (P < .0001). Beneficiaries residing in urban areas (aOR vs isolated rural towns = 1.12, P < .001), in zip codes with higher median incomes, and in the New England and East South Central census regions (aOR vs Pacific census region = 5.57, P < .001; aOR = 3.58, P < .001, respectively) had increased odds of receiving ranibizumab. Conclusions The odds of receiving bevacizumab vs ranibizumab as initial therapy for neovascular AMD among US Medicare beneficiaries varied substantially across geographic and demographic groups. Relatively fewer patients received ranibizumab for initial neovascular AMD treatment in 2009 vs 2006. Future research should study the drivers of variation in utilization of these interventions, the extent this variation indicates differential access to these agents, and whether treatment choice impacts patient outcomes.
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