UroToday - Although it is evident that patients with BPS/IC use significant healthcare resources, the degree of economic burden attributed to the condition has been incompletely studied. Clemens and colleagues from Chicago and Portland attempted to quantify the direct medical costs to the healthcare system associated with a diagnosis of BPS/IC and to examine condition-specific medication and procedure patterns in patients with the disorder. The study population included members of the Kaiser Permanente Northwest, a health maintenance organization based in Portland, Oregon.

They found that mean yearly costs were 2.4 times greater for patients than for controls ($7100 versus $2994) and the median yearly costs were 3.8-fold greater ($5000 verses $1304). The costs differences were mainly a result of outpatient and pharmacy expenses. An analysis of medical comorbidities suggested that the excess costs for the patients were more likely attributable to BPS/IC than to accompanying comorbidities incorporated into the treatment-risk model. The relative cost difference was most pronounced for the youngest individuals (25-50 years).

The authors note that the costs presented in their analysis may have underestimated the true cost of the disease for a number of reasons. They did not reflect IC-related costs accrued before diagnosis and did not included services not covered by Kaiser. They did not incorporate indirect costs, which are much harder to measure, such as work loss due to symptoms. Without a reliably effective treatment, this cost structure could persist for extended periods.

Clemens JQ, Meenan RT, Rosetti MC, Kimes T, Calhoun EA

Urology. 2008 Mar 6 (Epub ahead of print) doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2007.11.154

Reported by UroToday Contributing Editor Philip M. Hanno, MD, MPH

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