Direct cost of management and treatment of active systemic lupus erythematosus and its flares in Spain: the LUCIE Study

Rev Clin Esp (Barc). 2013 Apr;213(3):127-37. doi: 10.1016/j.rce.2012.11.018. Epub 2013 Feb 8.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Background and objective: The cost of control and management of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) in Spain is unknown. This study has aimed to describe the healthcare resources associated to control and treatment of LES and its flares and to estimate the associated direct costs.

Patients and methods: This was a European, multicentric, retrospective study (2008-2010) carried out with the participation of 5 hospitals in Spain with experience in SLE. Adult SLE patients (ACR criteria), with positive auto-antibodies (ANA and/or anti-ds-DNA) and active disease were included. Patients were stratified into severe and non-severe SLE. Direct healthcare costs were estimated with resources used and their unit costs.

Results: Seventy-five out of 79 SLE patients were analyzed. Of these, 52% had severe disease, 91.9% were females and 90.7% were Caucasian. Mean (SD) age was 41.0 (14.5) years. Annual direct cost per patient related to SLE management was €5,968 (7,038) and €3,604 (5,159) for severe and non-severe patients, respectively (P=.002). Costs related to hospitalizations, pharmacological treatment, visits to specialists, and laboratory tests were higher for patients with severe disease. At least one flare during the observation period was present in 90.7% of patients. Severe flares were a significant predictor of increase in cost.

Conclusions: The cost associated with SLE control and treatment is higher for severe SLE patients. Insufficient control of the disease activity results in an increase in flares. Its presence is related to an increase in costs, hospitalization being the major component.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / economics
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / economics*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spain


  • Immunosuppressive Agents