Student Presents at National Diabetes Meeting

Portrait of Dr.Jason LebowitzFor obese patients with type 2 diabetes deciding between gastric bypass and gastric banding procedures, banding seems to be the more cost-effective choice in the long-term, according to a study led by School of Pharmacy student Jason Lebowitz.

Lebowitz, a PharmD candidate who has been interning at Allergan since May 2010, gave a podium presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego in June where he offered an overview of his findings. Lebowitz collaborated with Allergan mentors Michael Oefelein, Somali Burgess and Ted Okerson who is senior medical director for devices at Allergan, on the study, “Comparative US Claims Data in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Patients Who Have Undergone Bariatric Procedures.”

“What makes our research unique is that patients were followed for eight years — four years prior to their procedure and four years after,” says Lebowitz. Changes in prescription expenses and total cost, submitted physician office and hospital charges, and total health-care charges were tracked over the course of the study.

The data demonstrates that while both surgical procedures are effective at reducing both care consumption and cost in type 2 diabetes patients in the short-term, longer-term costs significantly increased in patients undergoing bypass, whereas patients with banding had a reduction in cost and health care utilization.

Prior to their procedure, those who underwent banding took an average of 21 prescriptions, which fell to 16 one year after, and 13 four years after. Those who underwent bypass also saw an initial drop in prescription use, from an average of 28 one year prior to an average of 19 one year after, but this number increased to 20 by year four.

Banding patients also saw a greater drop in hospital visits, with 25 percent less visits four years after their surgery, while the bypass group’s visits decreased only 15 percent. In terms of costs, banding patients spent an average of $4,000 on their care by year four, while those who underwent bypass were spending $9,000.

“It is hypothesized that the increased four-year costs of bypass surgery are related to surgical complications and to micronutrient-related morbidity caused by malabsorption,” explains the study.

Lebowitz’s findings were also featured on WebMd. After he graduates, Lebowitz hopes to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry, with a focus on medical marketing or business development.

Photo: Pharmacy student Jason Lebowitz gave a podium presentation at the American Diabetes Association Annual Meeting.