Investigators from the USA estimated the economic burden of gastrointestinal (GI) and liver disease in the United States.
Although the burden of these diseases is considerable, current and accessible information on the prevalence, morbidity, and cost is sparse.
Data were extracted from a number of publicly available and proprietary national databases.
These were used to determine the prevalence, direct costs, and indirect costs for 17 selected GI and liver diseases.
Indirect cost calculations were purposely very conservative.
These costs were compared with National Institutes of Health (NIH) research expenditures for selected GI and liver diseases.
| Estimated direct costs for all digestive diseases in the USA = $85.5 billion.
| Gastroenterology |
The most prevalent diseases were non-food-borne gastroenteritis (135 million cases per year), food-borne illness (76 million), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, 19 million), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, 15 million).
The researchers found that the disease with the highest annual direct costs in the United States was GERD ($9.3 billion).
Gallbladder disease ($5.8 billion), colorectal cancer ($4.8 billion), and peptic ulcer disease ($3.1 billion) also had high direct costs.
The estimated direct costs for all 17 diseases in 1998 dollars were $36 billion. The estimated indirect costs were $22.8 billion.
In addition, the estimated direct costs for all digestive diseases were found to be $85.5 billion.
Total NIH research expenditures were $676 million in 2000.
Dr Robert S. Sandler, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said on behalf of his team, "GI and liver diseases exact heavy economic and social costs in the United States."
"Understanding the prevalence and costs of these diseases is important to help set priorities to reduce the burden of illness," he concluded.