JOURNAL ARTICLE

Cost of illness in rheumatoid arthritis in Germany in 1997-98 and 2002: cost drivers and cost savings

Timm Kirchhoff, Jörg Ruof, Thomas Mittendorf, Markus Rihl, Michael Bernateck, Wilfried Mau, Henning Zeidler, Reinhold E Schmidt, Sonja Merkesdal
Rheumatology 2011, 50 (4): 756-61
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OBJECTIVE: Comparison of overall RA-related costs and of relative contribution of single-cost domains before and after the introduction of TNF-blocking agents in Germany.

METHODS: Two cohorts of RA outpatients (ACR '87 criteria) with long-standing disease are assessed in terms of disease-related costs and cost composition (n = 106 patients in 1997-98 and n = 180 patients in 2002 with similar patient characteristics). Full-cost analyses are performed including direct disease-related costs (medical and non-medical) and productivity costs as collected by patient questionnaires. Absolute costs (€/patient/year) are compared and the impact of single-cost domains on overall costing in RA is estimated (relative proportions of cost components within samples).

RESULTS: Overall costs are comparable (1997-98: €4280; 2002: €3830; not significant). Differences can be observed in medication (1997-98: €550; 2002: €1580; P < 0.001) and hospitalization costs (1997-98: €1240; 2002: €500; P < 0.001). Productivity costs are significantly lower (€1480 vs €850; P < 0.05) in 2002. The impact of medication costs is outstanding in the 2002 sample (42 vs 12%), the proportion of hospitalization costs is substantially lower (29 vs 13%). Costs for DMARDs in 2002 are mostly driven by TNF blockers (37%). The number of DMARDs per patient is higher in 2002 as are costs for osteoporosis medication and gastroprotective treatment.

CONCLUSION: Although overall costs before and after the introduction of TNF blockers are comparable, the decrease in hospitalization and productivity costs is promising in terms of future long-term cost savings. The development of these aspects and of the increasing medication costs will have to be evaluated with longer time frames.

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