Background and objective: Asthma bronchiale (AB) and chronic bronchitis (CB) are common chronic disorders with high rates of prevalence. We performed a cost of illness study that aimed to assess the economic burden of these disorders in Germany.
Patients and methods: Costs were estimated in 1996. In a retrospective analysis we calculated direct and indirect costs based on secondary data from governmental institutions as well as from the pharmaceutical industry. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study which uses data for the Federal Republic of Germany following its reunification.
Results: Total estimated costs were DM 5.81 billion related to AB, and DM 20.17 billion related to CB. We did not include outpatient physician services in the calculation of direct costs due to a lack of adequate data. Therefore, direct costs represented only 33% and 22% of total estimated costs, respectively. The most important cost driver of direct costs were outpatient prescribed medicines, followed by hospitalization. Outpatient prescribed medicines accounted for 55% and 63% of the direct costs, respectively. Of the indirect costs of AB 43% were associated with early retirement. The largest single cost driver of indirect costs due to CB was by far loss of work, amounting to 75%.
Conclusions: The data suggest that therapeutic progress and cessation of smoking can provide distinctive savings of direct costs and even more of indirect costs of AB and CB.