Anabolic androgen use in the management of hereditary angioedema: Not so cheap after all

BACKGROUND: Hereditary angioedema due to C1 inhibitor deficiency (HAE) is a rare, life-threatening disease that imposes a significant burden on affected patients. 17alpha-alkylated androgens (anabolic androgens) decrease attack frequency and severity but carry the risk of potentially serious dose-related adverse effects. Despite the emergence of targeted therapies for HAE, continued anabolic androgen use has been driven in part by their low cost.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the hidden cost of anabolic androgen use related to the risk of developing non-HAE comorbidities.

METHODS: Patients with HAE were identified in the Southern California Kaiser Permanente database using clinical and laboratory findings compatible with HAE. These patients were stratified into anabolic androgen exposed and nonexposed groups. Matched controls were selected from the Kaiser database who did not have HAE or anabolic androgen exposure. Using multivariate analysis, we determined the number of non-HAE comorbidities linked to anabolic androgen use. We next determined the association between dosing and increasing exposure to anabolic androgens and the likelihood of having various comorbidities.

RESULTS: Patients with HAE exposed to anabolic androgens had a 28% increase (P = .04) in non-HAE comorbidities when compared with their matched (nonexposed) controls. With each gram per month increase in exposure, a 12% increase in non-HAE comorbidities is observed (P < .01). The most commonly occurring non-HAE comorbidities were psychiatric, muscle cramps, obesity, and hyperlipidemia.

CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that long-term anabolic androgen use enhances the risk of developing comorbid health conditions, thus amplifying the cost of care. Our report provides additional support for the preferred use of newer, targeted therapies for the management of HAE.
Copyright © 2017 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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