Cost, morbidity, and control of asthma in Hungary: The Hunair Study

Iren Herjavecz, Gyorgy Boszormenyi Nagy, Kalman Gyurkovits, Pal Magyar, Karoly Dobos, Laszlo Nagy, Evo Alemao, Rami Ben-Joseph
Journal of Asthma 2003, 40 (6): 673-81

OBJECTIVE: To assess asthma-related morbidity, symptom control, and societal cost of asthmatic patients in Hungary. Secondary objective was to assess the relationship between asthma symptom control and costs incurred.

METHODS: Three hundred seventy-eight pediatric asthma patients (6-14 years of age) and 711 adult asthma patients (18-55 years of age) in 19 pulmonary clinics were interviewed by their physicians regarding asthma-related drug therapy and recent (past 2 weeks) asthma morbidity (daytime asthma symptoms, nocturnal symptoms, limitation in daily activities resulting from asthma and asthma exacerbation). Physicians estimated patients' level of asthma control based on the Global Initiative of Asthma guidelines. Direct and indirect costs for asthma-related resources were determined based on patient reported 6 months' data except for drug costs that were based on patient reported 2 weeks of data. All cost data were annualized.

RESULTS: Patients in the study were mostly prescribed inhaled controller medications for asthma symptom management (76.2% pediatric and 92.3% adult) during the 2 weeks preceding the survey. Asthma-related morbidity was experienced by 15% of pediatric patients and 30% of the adult patients at least once during the 2 weeks preceding the survey. Physician classified 69% of pediatric patients as having good control, 27.5% as having moderate control, and 2.8% as having poor control of their asthma. In the adult population, 50.7% were classified as having good control, 36.6% as having moderate control, and 12.7% as having poor control. The average total annual costs (direct and indirect costs) per patient were 833 EUR (897 USD) for pediatric patients and 632 EUR (681 USD) for adult patients. In both pediatric and adult patients the total costs were highest for patients with poor asthma control. The total cost per patient increased in the ratios of 1 to 1.4 to 2.4 for pediatric patients and 1 to 1.5 to 2.9 for adult patients with good, moderate, and poor control of asthma, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Inhaled corticosteroids was the most frequent treatment prescribed for asthma patients in the study. However, patients reported substantial asthma-related morbidity. Children used more resources than adults, despite being classified as having better control. Patients with poor control of asthma symptoms incurred the highest societal cost, improving patient control may reduce cost to society by 40% or more.

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