Voice of America News (08.15.2013)
German health economists reported that the projected costs of emerging drug-resistant TB strains in European Union (EU) countries would justify immediate investment in the expensive process required to develop new anti-TB drugs. The report estimated that the annual direct cost of TB to EU countries exceeded 500 million euros. Productivity losses, which are based on disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), could reach approximately 5.3 billion euros. DALYs measure disease burden in terms of years lost to poor health, disability, or early death.
The World Health Organization estimated that 8.7 million people worldwide had TB in 2011, and as many as 2 million people could have drug-resistant strains by 2015. Typical TB patients must take anti-TB drugs for six months, although many fail to complete treatment. Stopping treatment early and misusing or overusing antibiotics has led to development of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) strains. The emergence of drug-resistant strains has turned TB into a “time bomb of rising costs” in Europe, according to study authors.
The report summarized TB treatment costs for two groups of EU countries. The direct cost per typical TB case for 15 old EU countries, Cyprus, Malta, and Slovenia was 10,282 euros; the cost to treat MDR TB rose to 57,200 euros; and the cost to treat XDR TB was 170,700 euros. For the remaining EU nations, treating typical TB cases cost 3,427 euros, and treating drug-resistant cases cost approximately 24,100 euros.
The full report, “Costs of Tuberculosis Disease in the EU—a Systematic Analysis and Cost Calculation,” was published online in the European Respiratory Journal (2013; doi: 10.1183/09031936.00079413).