The cost of asthma in the UK

The cost of asthma in the UK

Asthma is a common respiratory condition. A total of 262 million cases of asthma were estimated globally in 2019, with a prevalence of 27 million within Western Europe -it is estimated to affect as much as 12% of the UK population.  

In an article published in European Respiratory Journal Open Research, co-authored with Chiesi Group, IQVIA and Imperial College London, Nick Woolley and Vlada Bar-Katz analyse the environmental, healthcare and societal impacts of asthma in the UK. The article considers: the effects of the full asthma patient pathway, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated from inhalers; National Health Service (NHS) costs; health-related quality of life (HRQoL); and productivity losses. 

A comprehensive cost-of-Illness framework was developed considering these effects. The model was based on published literature and clinical expert opinion to accurately estimate, in monetary terms, the net present value of the asthma pathway impacts for 2022-31.  

Previous studies only considered particular elements of these costs. Our new study and article takes a broader perspective, including a wide range of costs, and considering the entire asthma pathway from diagnosis to treatment. 

Key Findings  

  • The estimated net present value of the environmental, healthcare, and societal impacts of the asthma pathway was £47 billion over the 2022-31 period in the UK.  
  • Loss of disease control was a key contributor to higher GHG emissions and NHS costs.  
  • In 2022, a non-severe uncontrolled patient was estimated to incur 22% higher NHS costs than a controlled patient, whilst generating 0.1 tonnes (t) more of CO2 equivalent emissions.  
  • In the same year, the total direct impacts per severe patient was four times higher than a non-severe controlled patient, with 0.54t CO2e of GHG emissions. 
  • As much as 77% of the total economic impact was driven from HRQoL worsening and productivity impacts occurring when patients’ symptoms are uncontrolled.  

Moving Forward  

Uncontrolled asthma significantly impacts the economy, environment, and patients in the UK. Hence, our results support the need for a clinical focus and consideration of the broader implications of inhaler prescribing, especially regarding environmentally centred policies that may indirectly lead to loss of disease control. Subsequently, loss of disease control could have substantial unintended consequences that extend beyond the healthcare system, to the economy and society. The results presented suggest that policies should be considered holistically and account for the effects or implications on both the patient and the economy. 

Click here to read the full article: Environmental, healthcare, and societal impacts of asthma: a UK model-based assessment 

Click here to read our work on cost impact of illnesses: 

Cost of Preventable Cancers in the UK 

The Rising Cost of Obesity