15 August 2013 - Kiel, Germany - The economic burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the European Union (EU) totals nearly six billion Euros as year, according to a scientific study published in the European Respiratory Journal.
The authors of the study calculated the sum after looking at direct costs, such as medication and hospitalization, indirect costs including loss of productivity and the monetary equivalent of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), a measure of the overall disease burden.
The cost of treating people with drug-susceptible TB in 18 wealthier EU countries is estimated at 7848 Euros per person, whereas the costs to treat multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) are estimated at 54 779 Euros and 168 310 Euros respectively. The cost of treatment of drug-susceptible TB patients in the nine remaining EU member states is estimated at 2616 Euros per person and the cost of treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB patients in these countries is estimated at 24 166 Euros.
The loss of productivity is calculated at 2434 Euros per TB patient, regardless of whether they have drug-susceptible or drug-resistant TB, for the 18 wealthier EU countries, and 811 Euros for the remaining 9 countries. Combined with the direct costs and the estimated monetary equivalent of the DALYs lost due to TB - some five billion Euros - this adds up to a total of nearly six billion Euros.
"Taken into account the many conservative assumptions, the amount of direct costs are likely to be much higher than calculated in our study," says Dr Roland Diel, Professor of Health Economy at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel and first author of the scientific paper. "It wouldn’t surprise me if the real direct costs including staff costs of Public Health institutions established to control TB on a nationwide level would be approximately twice as high as we calculated. From personal information from experts in several countries all over Europe, we know that the costs calculated by us are too low, but we wanted to publish undeniable, published data to prevent any discussion."
Dr Joris Vandeputte, co-author of the article, says: "We now have a clear indication that the cost of TB, even in the wealthy European Union where many people think TB is a disease of the past, is many times higher than most people realize. With the threatening rise of MDR-TB and XDR-TB, not only in Europe, but in the whole world, it is likely that these costs will increase in the next future."