Original Research

Intravenous Immunoglobulin in Treating Nonventilated COVID-19 Patients With Moderate-to-Severe Hypoxia: A Pharmacoeconomic Analysis



From Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, CA (Drs. Poremba, Dehner, Perreiter, Semma, and Mills), Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, San Diego, CA (Dr. Sakoulas), and Collaborative to Halt Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes (CHARM), Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA (Dr. Sakoulas).


Objective: To compare the costs of hospitalization of patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 who received intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) with those of patients of similar comorbidity and illness severity who did not.

Design: Analysis 1 was a case-control study of 10 nonventilated, moderately to severely hypoxic patients with COVID-19 who received IVIG (Privigen [CSL Behring]) matched 1:2 with 20 control patients of similar age, body mass index, degree of hypoxemia, and comorbidities. Analysis 2 consisted of patients enrolled in a previously published, randomized, open-label prospective study of 14 patients with COVID-19 receiving standard of care vs 13 patients who received standard of care plus IVIG (Octagam 10% [Octapharma]).

Setting and participants: Patients with COVID-19 with moderate-to-severe hypoxemia hospitalized at a single site located in San Diego, California.

Measurements: Direct cost of hospitalization.

Results: In the first (case-control) population, mean total direct costs, including IVIG, for the treatment group were $21,982 per IVIG-treated case vs $42,431 per case for matched non-IVIG-receiving controls, representing a net cost reduction of $20,449 (48%) per case. For the second (randomized) group, mean total direct costs, including IVIG, for the treatment group were $28,268 per case vs $62,707 per case for untreated controls, representing a net cost reduction of $34,439 (55%) per case. Of the patients who did not receive IVIG, 24% had hospital costs exceeding $80,000; none of the IVIG-treated patients had costs exceeding this amount (P = .016, Fisher exact test).

Conclusion: If allocated early to the appropriate patient type (moderate-to-severe illness without end-organ comorbidities and age <70 years), IVIG can significantly reduce hospital costs in COVID-19 care. More important, in our study it reduced the demand for scarce critical care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: IVIG, SARS-CoV-2, cost saving, direct hospital costs.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has been available in most hospitals for 4 decades, with broad therapeutic applications in the treatment of Kawasaki disease and a variety of inflammatory, infectious, autoimmune, and viral diseases, via multifactorial mechanisms of immune modulation.1 Reports of COVID-19−associated multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults and children have supported the use of IVIG in treatment.2,3 Previous studies of IVIG treatment for COVID-19 have produced mixed results. Although retrospective studies have largely been positive,4-8 prospective clinical trials have been mixed, with some favorable results9-11 and another, more recent study showing no benefit.12 However, there is still considerable debate regarding whether some subgroups of patients with COVID-19 may benefit from IVIG; the studies that support this argument, however, have been diluted by broad clinical trials that lack granularity among the heterogeneity of patient characteristics and the timing of IVIG administration.13,14 One study suggests that patients with COVID-19 who may be particularly poised to benefit from IVIG are those who are younger, have fewer comorbidities, and are treated early.8

At our institution, we selectively utilized IVIG to treat patients within 48 hours of rapidly increasing oxygen requirements due to COVID-19, targeting those younger than 70 years, with no previous irreversible end-organ damage, no significant comorbidities (renal failure, heart failure, dementia, active cancer malignancies), and no active treatment for cancer. We analyzed the costs of care of these IVIG (Privigen) recipients and compared them to costs for patients with COVID-19 matched by comorbidities, age, and illness severity who did not receive IVIG. To look for consistency, we examined the cost of care of COVID-19 patients who received IVIG (Octagam) as compared to controls from a previously published pilot trial.10


Recommended Reading

Finding ‘bright lights’: Why family physician continues to love practicing mid-career
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Pancreatic involvement in COVID-19: What do we know?
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
CDC signs off on COVID boosters in children ages 5-11
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
COVID-19 burnout? Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Does COVID-19 raise the risk for diabetes?
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
How to manage drug interactions with Paxlovid for COVID-19
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
FDA, AMA prepare for potential COVID-19 shots for children younger than 6
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Children and COVID: Weekly cases keep rising past 100,000
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Births jump for first time since 2014
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Researchers find a pathway to prevent COVID infection
Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management