To update the estimate of the prevalence of refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in the United States, and to assess the clinical and economic differences between patients with and without refractory GERD.
GERD affects 18% to 28% of the US population, with nearly 40% of GERD patients presenting with refractory symptoms despite ongoing therapy.
Retrospective analysis of the IBM MarketScan databases between January 2011 and June 2018. Inclusion criteria were prescription fill and subsequent refill of a proton pump inhibitor or H2-receptor antagonist (earliest claim=index date), diagnosis of GERD 60 days preceding and/or following index, continuous insurance enrolment for 12 months preceding/following index, and absence of prior GERD diagnosis or GERD medication. We derived refractory GERD symptom scores for all patients on the basis of a previously published algorithm. Health care costs and comorbidities were assessed for all patients and compared between those with and without refractory GERD.
In total, 399,017 GERD patients qualified for the study; 103,654 (26%) met our definition of having indications of refractory GERD symptoms. Patients with refractory GERD symptoms reported significantly higher rates of hiatal hernia (25.1% vs. 5.9%), esophagitis (37.3% vs. 11.8%), esophageal stricture (11.3% vs. 1.5%), and dysphagia (26.8% vs. 7.1%; P<0.01 for each). The refractory GERD symptoms cohort incurred ~$10,000 greater health care costs per patient per year compared with patients without refractory GERD symptoms ($26,057±$58,948 vs. $15,285±$39,307; P<0.01).
Refractory GERD symptoms were associated with a substantial increase in health care costs. Treatments aimed at improving refractory GERD symptoms may mitigate symptom burden, potentially reducing health care expenditure.