Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), as a life-threatening disease with no efficient cure, may impose a tremendous economic burden on patients and healthcare systems. However, most existing studies have mainly emphasised epidemiology and medications, while large observational studies reporting on the economic burden are currently lacking.
Objectives: To review and evaluate evidence on the costs of PAH and the cost effectiveness of PAH treatments, and to summarise the corresponding cost drivers.
Methods: Systematic literature searches were conducted in English-language databases (PubMed, Web of Science, ScienceDirect) and Chinese-language databases (China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data, Chongqing VIP) to identify studies (published from 2000 to 2014) assessing the costs of PAH or the cost effectiveness of PAH treatments. The search results were independently reviewed and extracted by two reviewers. Costs were converted into 2014 US dollars.
Results: Of 1959 citations identified in the initial search, 19 papers were finally included in this analysis: eight on the economic burden of PAH and 11 on economic evaluation of PAH treatments. The economic burden on patients with PAH was rather large, with direct healthcare costs per patient per month varying from $2476 to $11,875, but none of the studies reported indirect costs. Sildenafil was universally reported to be a cost-effective treatment, with lower costs and better efficacy than other medications. Medical costs were reported to be the key cost drivers.
Conclusion: The economic burden of patients with PAH is substantial, while the paucity of comprehensive country-specific evidence in this area and the lack of reports on indirect costs of PAH warrant researchers' concern, especially in China.