THURSDAY, May 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Sickle cell disease (SCD) imposes a considerable burden in terms of overall and out-of-pocket medical costs, with the burden of costs peaking in young adulthood, according to a study published online May 16 in Blood Advances.

Kate M. Johnson, Ph.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues estimated the total health care and out-of-pocket costs attributable to SCD among commercially insured individuals over their nonelderly lifetimes (ages 0 to 64 years). The retrospective cohort study included individuals diagnosed with SCD using commercial claims data from 2007 to 2018, compared with matched controls (20,891 patients and 33,588 controls).

The researchers found that the survival-adjusted SCD costs peaked at age 13 to 24 years and decreased at older ages. No significant difference was seen between the sexes in total medical costs or out-of-pocket costs. For females and males with SCD, SCD-attributable costs over 0 to 64 years of age were estimated to be $1.6 and $1.7 million, respectively; the corresponding out-of-pocket cost estimates were $42,395 and $45,091. These represented increases of 907 and 285 percent in total medical and out-of-pocket costs over controls, respectively.

“Hopefully, these findings will trigger some conversation around the pricing of gene therapies,” Johnson said in a statement. “While SCD is a rare disease, the current treatments available are placing a substantial economic burden on individuals and our entire health care system.”

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