Antibiotic resistance in one bacteria that causes pneumonia is costing the American public $233 per year. Research published in the open access journal Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control calculates this figure based on extra treatment costs and lost productivity or time off work.
The article is the first analysis of the current US cost of antimicrobial resistance in this bacterial disease, giving vital detail about where the cost of antibiotic resistance comes from. The authors of the paper highlight the need to treat antibiotics as a valuable and increasingly scarce resource.
Pneumoccocal pneumonia is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. Some of these bacteria have developed resistance to commonly used antibiotics. 250,000 cases of pneumonia occur annually due to a strain resistant to one or more common antibiotics. This is a trend seen worldwide, as disease-causing bacteria evolve the ability to survive antibiotic treatment. These resistance genes then spread amongst the bacterial population, and render antibiotics useless.
The authors say their figure is a tiny fraction of the overall cost of antibiotic resistance due to all bacteria. This is especially true since successful vaccines have prevented a large portion of pneumococcal pneumonia. Still, some S.pneumoniae continue to develop antibiotic resistance.
Senior author Susan Huang, from University of California Irvine, said: ”This is a very small piece of the pie – we’re talking about one disease that one kind of bacteria causes. If it costs this much for one of our successful vaccine stories, imagine the cost of all antibiotic resistance.”
For their analysis, the authors mapped out all the possible outcomes for a patient with pneumococcal pneumonia. They calculated the probability of each string of events, considering options like whether the patient is cured, whether their strain is resistant to an antibiotic and the patient might have to be treated with another, or have to stay overnight in hospital. They then worked out the financial cost of each of those outcomes and the cost of reduced productivity and days off work, and predicted the overall financial cost.
Lead author Courtney Reynolds, from University of California Irvine, said: “We’ve used a lot of real data on the number of people getting each treatment in our model. Then where there were unknowns, we’ve used expert opinion and scientific literature. In this study we not only estimate what antibiotic resistance costs presently, but what it could cost should antibiotic resistance continue to rise.
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Notes to Editor
Attributable Healthcare Utilization and Cost of Pneumonia due to Drug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumonia: a cost analysis
Courtney A Reynolds, Jonathan A Finkelstein, G. Thomas Ray, Matthew R Moore and Susan S Huang
Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 2014, 3:16
Article available at journal website
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