Cost-effective management of recalcitrant diabetic foot ulcers

Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 2002 Oct;19(4):483-91. doi: 10.1016/s0891-8422(02)00018-6.


The worldwide increase in prevalence of type 2 diabetes has resulted in a parallel increase in diabetic foot ulcers--a pervasive and significant problem associated with this disease [2]. Currently, an estimated 10.3 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, while an additional estimated 5.4 million people with diabetes remain undiagnosed, representing a sixfold increase in the incidence of diabetes over the past four decades [9]. Approximately 15% (more than 2 million individuals, based on these estimates) of all people with diabetes will develop a lower-extremity ulcer during the course of the disease [10-12]. While most of these ulcers can be treated successfully on an outpatient basis, some will persist and become infected. Ultimately, between 14% and 20% of patients with lower-extremity diabetic ulcers will require amputation of the affected limb [13-15]. Diabetic foot ulcers can result in staggering financial burdens for both the healthcare system and the patient. For example, analysis of the 1995 Medicare claims revealed that lower-extremity ulcer care accounted for $1.45 billion in Medicare costs and contributed substantially to the high cost of care for diabetics, compared with Medicare costs for the general population [5]. Therapies that promote rapid and complete healing and reduce the need for expensive surgical procedures would impact these costs substantially. Results of this analysis suggest that becaplermin may ultimately be more cost-effective for the treatment of chronic diabetic foot ulcers than other treatment modalities, despite its higher initial dollar cost. This finding may be attributed to a combination of factors. First, expenses incurred in more prolonged treatment, such as office visits and the need for additional dressings, can be avoided when healing completes in a shorter period. Second, rapid and complete ulcer healing may reduce the incidence of significant morbidities (such as amputation or infection) and premature mortality; consequently, the financial burden associated with these complications would be reduced. Finally, the value of improved quality of life in patients with healed ulcers and the reduction in financial burden for patients who return to work cannot be ignored. These promising results warrant further investigation in larger controlled clinical studies to define more clearly the cost-effectiveness of becaplermin in this patient population.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / economics
  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / pharmacology
  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Becaplermin
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diabetic Foot / economics
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / economics
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-sis
  • United States
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-sis
  • Becaplermin