Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Hepatitis C Cost United States $5 Billion in 1997, Study Shows
Hepatitis C, the most common bloodborne infection in the United States, cost the country about $5.46 billion in medical costs, lost earnings and lost home production in 1997, roughly equivalent to the costs of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study in the Oct. 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Reuters Health reports that although HCV was not as costly as HIV -- estimated at $30 billion in 1992 -- the cost of HCV infection "justifies" increased funding requests for expanded prevention, screening, treatment and research initiatives, as HCV-related mortality could triple within the next two decades. "Our findings emphasize the tremendous impact that this epidemic is having on our society, not only in human lives but economic costs as well. As other clinicians who care for these patients can attest, patients that develop significant liver disease not only have high health care costs but are so severely disabled that they are unable to work," co-author Dr. Christopher Bowlus of the University of California-Davis Medical Center told Reuters Health. HCV infection resulting in chronic liver disease accounted for 92% of the costs, not including costs associated with pain and suffering or costs of care provided by family members. The remaining 8% of costs were attributable to primary liver cancer resulting from HCV (Rauscher, Reuters Health, 10/8).
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