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Original Article


The Burden of Unscheduled Health Care for Asthma in Latin America


H Neffen,1 SN Gonzalez,2 CC Fritscher,3 C Dovali,4 AE Williams5

1Respiratory Medicine Unit, “O. Alassia” Children’s Hospital, Sante Fe, Argentina
2University Hospital, Monterrey, México
3Pontifi cia Universidade Catolica Do Rio Grande Do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
4GlaxoSmithKline Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5Global Health Outcomes, GlaxoSmithKline R&D, Greenford, United Kingdom

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2010; Vol. 20(7): 596-601



Objectives: To determine the level and cost of unscheduled health care resource use in adults and children across all asthma symptom severities in Latin America.

Methods: The level and cost of health care resource use were analysed for 2074 patients with asthma included in the Asthma Insights and Reality in Latin America (AIRLA) survey from 10 Latin American countries. Health care resource use was multiplied by country-specific unit costs to estimate average per-patient annual costs. Patients were classified as adults (≥16 years) or children (<16 years), with disease severity categorized using a symptom severity index.

Results: Persistent asthma symptoms were experienced by 53.1% of patients (50.1% of children and 54.6% of adults). In the year preceding the survey, 57.1% of patients required unscheduled health care resource use and 45.1% reported at least 1 emergency hospital contact. The percentage of patients reporting unscheduled health care resource use was greatest amongst those with severe persistent symptoms
(71.9%) but it was also high in those with mild intermittent symptoms (45.7%). An average of 73.2% of annual costs of asthma-related health care for the 10 countries was due to unscheduled health care. Expenditure on unscheduled care was greatest amongst both adults and children with severe persistent asthma symptoms (US $558 and US $769, respectively). Adults and children with mild intermittent symptoms also incurred considerable unscheduled costs (US $204 and US $215, respectively).

Conclusions: Poorly controlled asthma imposes a considerable cost burden driven by unscheduled health care resource use in Latin America. Treatments to control asthma and reduce the need for unscheduled health care could reduce this cost in both adults and children.

Key words: Asthma prevention and control. Latin America. Cost.