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Uncontrolled Asthma Increases Economic Burden by Billions

June 24, 2019

According to a recent study, despite numerous effective treatments for asthma, a significant faction of patients do not achieve sustained asthma control and could be faced with increased financial burden and decreased quality-adjusted life years (QALY). 

J Mark FitzGerald, MD, professor in the division of respiratory medicine, at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues, conducted a study projecting the economic and health burden of uncontrolled asthma in the United States, examining the next 20 years. The study focused on both American adolescents and adults. Per the study, the team stated that the significant added financial burden is preventable.

The research team constructed a probabilistic model that connected state-specific estimates of population growth and aging, asthma prevalence, and asthma control levels. From this data, Dr Fitzgerald and colleagues ran multiple analyses to estimate differences in health care resource use, QALYs, and productivity loss across control levels. 

From the resulting data, Dr Fitzgerald and colleagues estimate that from 2018 to 2038, direct costs associated with uncontrolled asthma could reach $300.6 billion (95% confidence interval [CI] $190.1-$411.1). If indirect costs are included in this calculation, the economic burden increases to $963.5 billion (95%CI $664.1B-$1,262.9B). The researchers also note that American adolescents and adults will lose an estimated 15.46 million (95%CI 12.77M-18.14M) QALYs from 2018 to 2038 if the rate of uncontrolled asthma continues to grow. 

Dr Fitzgerald and fellow researchers noted, “Given that a substantial fraction of this burden is preventable, better adherence to evidence-informed asthma management strategies by care providers and patients has the potential to substantially reduce costs and improve quality of life.”

Edan Stanley

Mohsen Y, Adibi A, Safari A, Fitzgerald JM, Sadatsafavi M. The projected economic and health burden of uncontrolled asthma in the United States: Supplementary Material. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. June 2019. doi:10.1101/516740

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