Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) can be treated with multiple oral immunosuppressants but cost analyses of these treatments are lacking. We aimed to assess the relative cost difference between various oral medications for CLE using a cost-minimization analysis. Annual direct costs for 10 oral medications used in CLE were calculated including cost of medications and patient monitoring, which include office visits, laboratory and radiological studies, and procedures. Medication costs were taken from the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost calculated by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services or the Average Wholesale Price. Monitoring guidelines were obtained from expert consensus and FDA-approved recommendations. Methotrexate had the lowest total direct cost ($899.31), followed by hydroxychloroquine ($1007.38), mycophenolate mofetil ($1162.12), azathioprine ($1193.71), chloroquine ($2525.01), dapsone ($2750.68), cyclosporine ($2976.32), thalidomide ($75,831.44), and lenalidomide ($316,104.03). For medications used for CLE patients, the medication cost contributes the most to differences between direct costs. Limitations include insufficient patient outcome data to ascertain medication efficacy, exclusion of cost of medication-related adverse events and hospitalizations, and medication cost data not reflecting all payers. Clinicians can use this data to help discern which medication to prescribe CLE patients with financial constraints and reduce healthcare spending.
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