Auckland, New Zealand – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), resulting usually from long term tobacco smoking and/or severe air pollution, is a major health issue in most countries, and is increasing as the population ages. Daily use of equipment that warms and humidifies inspired air improves breathing and quality of life and reduces exacerbations of moderate to severe COPD and bronchiectasis.

Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand set out to establish whether daily use of equipment that warms and humidifies inspired air provides good value for money for patients with moderate or severe airways disease.

In a 12-month randomised controlled trial of humidification of inspired air at home, direct medical costs, including those of hospital admissions, Emergency Department and general practitioner consultations, were comparable or lower in the patients with the intervention than in a control group with usual clinical care. With the intervention costing $NZ2059 ($US1700) annually, the mean cost per unit of health benefit (quality adjusted life year or ‘QALY’) was well within the range of fundability for new medicines and devices in New Zealand.

“Long-term humidification therapy improves quality of life and it is likely to be cost effective for patients with moderate to severe airways disease in most developed countries,” said Dr. Richard Milne, PhD, Managing Director, Health Outcomes Associates, Ltd in Auckland, and lead investigator on the study.

The full study, “Long-Term Air Humidification Therapy Is Cost-Effective for Patients with Moderate or Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Bronchiectasis,” is published in Value in Health.

Is humidification of inspired air cost effective for patients with severe airway disease?

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