Ten-Country Study Identifies Indirect Costs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

A partnership in the United Kingdom is studying the economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis, particularly the indirect costs of the disease and the need to measure the human burden.

A partnership in the United Kingdom is studying the economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), particularly the indirect costs of the disease and the need to measure the human burden.

The University of Chester, HCD Economics, and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) have partnered together to study per patient societal costs. Ten countries have participated in the study: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Most previous studies have focused on the direct costs of RA, and, according to NRAS, these studies likely “underestimated the true cost effectiveness of clinically effective treatments.” The Burden of RA: A Socioeconomic Study (BRASS) collected demographic, clinical, 12-month ambulatory, and secondary care activity data on 4200 patients. In addition, BRASS collected self-reported direct and indirect non-medical cost and quality of life information from 2087 patients.

Prior to this research, there had been difficulty accessing up-to-date, accurate data about the costs of living with RA, according to Alisa Bosworth, CEO of NRAS. BRASS has shown that short-, medium-, and long-term sick leave (including early retirement) have an annual per-patient cost that is greater than direct medical or direct non-medical costs. According to NRAS, the study is showing the “wider societal impact of living with RA” and that optimizing patient care means addressing direct and indirect costs as a combined unit.

“If we are to be able to truly optimize medicines in the future, the real costs both to the individual and their family as well as wider society, including lost productivity must be factored into their use,” Bosworth said in a statement. “It makes no sense for bodies such as NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] to continue to ignore the true cost of treating people with complex conditions such as RA.”