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Europe Facing Rising Cost Of Drug-Resistant TB, Study Says

“Europe is facing a multi-billion-euro time bomb of rising costs to control tuberculosis (TB) as drug-resistant forms of the lung disease spread, a pioneering study found,” Reuters reports. “Often thought of as a disease of the past or one restricted to marginalized communities, TB is already inflicting annual direct costs of more than 500 million euros on the region and another 5.3 billion euros in productivity losses,” the news service notes, adding, “The study, by health economists based in Germany, also suggests the economic burden of TB far outweighs the likely costs of investing in much-needed research to develop more effective medicines and vaccines — something they said governments and the drug industry should do urgently.”

“For this study, published online in the European Respiratory Journal on Friday and the first of its kind, researchers used a systematic review of literature and institutional websites for the 27 E.U. member states to summarize data on TB treatment costs in 2011,” Reuters writes. “The total treatment cost of all TB cases in 2011 was 536,890,315 euros ($712.26 million),” according to the news service, which notes, “While the number of drug-resistant TB cases in Europe is currently only a tiny fraction of the total of around 70,000 cases per year, [Roland Diel, a health economics professor at Germany’s University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, who led the study,] said that would swiftly change.” Reuters adds, “Beyond the direct costs, Diel’s team also calculated TB’s impact in terms of the monetary value of lost productivity” using disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs, and “found the total years lost was 103,104 in 2011. In monetary terms, this amounted to more than 5.3 billion euros” (Kelland, 8/15).