Sickle cell anaemia: epidemiology and cost of illness

Pharmacoeconomics. 2002;20(6):357-66. doi: 10.2165/00019053-200220060-00001.


The purpose of this paper was to review the research examining the epidemiology of and costs associated with sickle cell anaemia (SCA). Although there is general acceptance that Black populations are at greatest risk of the disease, estimates of disease incidence and prevalence vary greatly among different Black populations. In addition, the sickle cell haemoglobinopathy poses a health problem to many other ethnic groups, including populations native to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and Cyprus. As penicillin prophylaxis has been shown to reduce the risk of sepsis among children with SCA, many governments have established newborn screening programmes to improve the health outcomes for patients with this disease. As a group, patients with SCA incur large numbers of hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and outpatient visits, often at substantial costs, hence, obtaining adequate health insurance is a problem for many patients. A common theme present in studies reviewed in this article is that a small proportion of patients tends to account for a majority of the total healthcare costs. As new diagnostic methods and treatment options become available, balancing costs associated with SCA and quality of healthcare will continue to present challenges to many healthcare providers and insurers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / economics*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insurance, Health
  • Neonatal Screening