Background: Treatment of severe asthma may include high dose systemic-steroid therapy which is associated with substantial additional morbidity. This study estimates the additional healthcare costs associated with steroid-induced morbidity by comparing three patients groups: those with severe asthma, moderate asthma and no asthma.
Methods: Patients with severe asthma (n = 808, GINA step 5 treatment) were matched by age and gender with patients with mild/moderate asthma (n = 3,975, GINA step 2 and 3 treatment) and a non-asthma control cohort (with a diagnosis of rhinitis; n = 2,412) from the Optimum Patient Care Research Database (OPCRD), a nationally representative primary care database. Prescribed drugs and publicly funded healthcare activity were monetised and annual costs per patient estimated. Regression analyses were used to estimate the additional healthcare cost associated with steroid-induced morbidity.
Results: Average healthcare costs per person per year range from £2603 - £4533 for the severe asthma cohort, to £978 - £2072 for the mild/moderate asthma cohort, to £560 - £1324 for the non-asthma control cohort, depending on the costing scenario. Differences in induced morbidity costs were evident between patients with asthma differentiated by steroid exposure. In relation to prescription drugs used to treat steroid-induced co-morbidities, females with severe asthma and high steroid exposure cost approximately £789 more per year than a corresponding female with no asthma, while males cost approximately £744 more than their counterparts with no asthma. Estimates were extrapolated to all healthcare costs.
Conclusions: This study provides the first robust estimates of the additional cost of healthcare related to steroid-induced morbidity relative to patients with no steroid exposure. The study will help inform use of steroid-sparing strategies in this patient group.
Keywords: Asthma; Comorbidity; Health Economics; Systemic Corticosteroids.