Seattle, WA, USA – About 40 million patients with asthma live in Latin America. Although effective treatments have been shown to control asthma symptoms and improve quality of life in asthmatic patients, most patients, especially in Latin American countries, have poor control of their asthma. Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle found that patients with poorly-controlled asthma in five Latin American countries have health care costs up to 25 times that of patients with well-controlled asthma.
In the study entitled, “Asthma Control and Cost in Latin America,” published in Value in Health Regional Issues, the researchers investigated whether partly- and uncontrolled asthma were associated with increased costs for asthma medicines and health encounters, such as visits to health care providers and emergency rooms.
Ninety-three percent of the respondents to the survey had asthma that was classified as partly- or uncontrolled. Across all five countries, patients whose asthma was partly- or uncontrolled used more asthma medications and medical services compared to patients whose asthma was well-controlled. Additionally, total costs for asthma-related medications and health care were up to 25 times greater in patients whose asthma was classified as partly- and uncontrolled.
Lead author Dr. Laura Gold, PhD, a research scientist from the University of Washington, said, “This study showed that asthma that is not well-controlled causes a significant cost burden in Latin American countries. Leaders in health care in these countries should consider steps such as reducing patient costs for asthma medications, which would likely decrease unscheduled visits to health care providers and emergency departments. Other steps that might increase asthma control in these countries include improving training of health care providers and providing patient and caregiver education to improve management of asthma symptoms.”