Medical costs associated with the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are increasing and patients who suffer from the disease spend on average twice as much in direct medical costs than people without COPD. Those are the conclusions of a study conducted at the University of British Columbia in Canada that analyzed data between 2001 and 2011.
The study “10-Year Trends in Direct Costs of COPD: A Population Based Study,” which was recently published in the CHEST Journal, revealed the tendencies for an increase of medical costs for COPD patients. The research team led by the research analyst Amir Khakban, MSc analyzed British Columbia’s administrative health data to create a cohort of COPD patients and a matched comparison cohort of individuals without the disease.
The main purpose of the study, which included 153,570 participants with COPD and 246,801 without the disease, was to understand the excess medical costs related to COPD, as well as the spending trend over a 10-year period. The researchers concluded that COPD patients spent on average $8,600 annually in direct medical costs, while the comparison group spent on average $3,148.
According to the investigators, the adjusted excess costs for COPD patients reach $5,452 annually, which revealed an increase in excess costs related to COPD patients’ healthcare by $296 per person every year. The study was also able to define the two main causes for the costs, which are hospital admissions, contributing to 56.7% of the total expenses, and cost of medications, which contribute to 21.7%.
The increase in medical costs is also related to the increase in COPD patients’ age, since study participants between 35 and 44 years old registered $4,468 annual excess costs, while participants older than 85 spent $6,720. “The concerning trends observed in this study will not change without systemic and coordinated attempts that target the entire pathway of COPD care from risk factor modification to early diagnosis and better disease management,” noted the researchers.
Direct medical costs of COPD patients were also recently studied in a collaboration between research teams in China and Canada, revealing that the quality of life of Chinese patients with COPD is linked to the direct medical costs of the disease. The study, which is entitled “Quality of life and its association with direct medical costs for COPD in urban China,” was published in the Health and Quality of Life Outcomes journal, may have implications in improving COPD patient outcomes worldwide.
In addition to this study, another research team at the University of British Columbia is working to reduce the burden of COPD. By the beginning of June, the university announced a collaboration with InMed Pharmaceuticals to study cannabinoid compounds and potentially develop a treatment for COPD based on cannabis.