Assessing cost-effectiveness of human growth hormone (hGH) treatment to augment height is complicated by uncertainty about how best to measure its therapeutic effect. Cost-conscious growth promotion practice, however, is possible and likely an emerging practical requisite as health care payers increasingly deny the medical necessity of and restrict support for short stature treatment. The increase in denials is not surprising given the expansion and continued high cost of hGH treatment, debate about the value of such treatment, and universal need to restrain burgeoning health care costs.
Renunciation of sweeping payer rejection of hGHfor-height treatment is strengthened by cost-conscious practices that:
- Recommend no treatment for most short children and restrict treatment to severe, likely disabling short stature
- Initiate hGH treatment only after evidence-based informed assent
- Utilize alternative less costly and less invasive options when possible
- Minimize hGH treatment duration and dosage
- Resist enhancement of normal adult stature
A new era of cost-conscious hGH prescribing that prompts thoughtful restraint in hGH use could help preserve hGH approval for children most in need of treatment.