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Free Content Value of antimicrobials in the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis in the United States

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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the economic value of antimicrobials for the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis in the United States from 1954 through 1997.

DESIGN: Published sources were used to estimate the burden of illness (direct medical costs, reductions in quality of life, and years of life lost) from active tuberculosis (TB) cases diagnosed between 1954 and 1997. Published literature concerning the pre-antimicrobial incidence rate and treatment of TB were extrapolated to estimate the burden of illness that would have occurred in the absence of antimicrobials.

RESULTS: Between 1954 and 1997, the use of antimicrobials reduced the number of newly diagnosed cases of active TB by 32% (relative to the number that would have occurred in the absence of antimicrobials), the number of mortalities by 81%, the number of life-years lost by 87%, and the cost of medical treatment by 76%. The total financial burden of illness over this time period (including the value of lost life-years) was reduced from $894 billion (in 1997 dollars) to $128 billion.

CONCLUSION: TB antimicrobials had a substantial health impact in the US from 1954 to 1997. This quantitative assessment of the economic impact of innovative biopharmaceutical products demonstrates the importance of continuing medical innovation.
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Keywords: antimicrobials; cost of illness; cost savings; cost-benefit analysis; medical economics; modern history of medicine; tuberculosis

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: SRI International, Center for Health Sciences, Menlo Park, California, USA 2: Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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