For children with Idiopathic Short Stature (ISS) – a condition of unknown origin that causes kids to grow well below the normal height range – it would cost as much as $100,000 for one child to grow an average of two additional inches using growth hormone therapy for five years.

This finding comes from researchers at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital who analysed the cost-effectiveness of growth hormone for children with ISS. They are the first to conduct such a study using clinical trial data that were the basis for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s July 2003 approval of recombinant growth hormone for the long-term treatment of children with ISS.

“Due to variability in the growth response we found in children with ISS, targeted treatment of children with ISS who have the greatest potential for growth is critical to improve the cost-effectiveness of this therapy,” says study lead author Joyce Lee, M.D.

To determine the cost-effectiveness of the therapy, Lee and her colleagues compared the height gain by adulthood for children treated for five years with growth hormone therapy to that of children who received no medical intervention. The study focused on children with ISS who had no evidence of growth hormone deficiency or other known medical conditions that might compromise their growth.

“With the rising cost of prescription drug therapies in the country, growth hormone therapy for ISS has the potential to become one of the major challenges facing our health care system today,” says Lee.

To improve the cost-effectiveness of growth hormone therapy, Lee says more research needs to be done to help physicians identify children likely to have the greatest potential for growth.; Source: University of Michigan Health System