Study Funded By FAAN Reviews Costs Associated with Medical Visits and Lost Productivity The cost of treating food allergy reactions is estimated to be between $340 and $510 million per year, according to the results of a newly published, and first of its kind, study on the economic burden of food allergy. David Holdford, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-author of the study, was awarded a research grant from FAAN™ (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) to conduct this study in 2010.
“This is the first study to quantify the medical costs and lost productivity of treating food allergy reactions,” said Holdford. “Details about the economic burden associated with food allergies will aid decision makers in formulating public health policies and guide future research that seeks to understand the impact of food allergy in the U.S.”
By reviewing medical records from 2006 and 2007, researchers estimated the average cost of illness per patient, looking at emergency visits, office-based physician visits, and outpatient visits for food-induced allergic reactions. The study was published online on April 14 by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at www.jacionline.org.
“This study confirms that there is a significant financial consequence associated with food allergy, not only to individual families but to the healthcare system as well,” said FAAN CEO Maria Acebal. “It gives us a glimpse into the medical costs associated with treating allergic reactions to foods; further research will be needed to understand the full scope of the economic impact.”
Among the findings:
Visits to physicians’ offices made up more than half of all costs.
- Children’s visits accounted for nearly 50 percent of in-patient costs, 32 percent of emergency department costs, and 67 percent of office-visit costs.
- The average cost per emergency room visit was $533; the average cost of hospitalization was $4,719.
Given the practical difficulty in tracking food allergic reactions, the increase in the prevalence of food allergy since 2007, and the additional direct out-of-pocket costs to families (multiple epinephrine auto-injectors, specialty foods, regular allergist visits) and to other key sectors such as schools and the food industry, it is highly likely that the economic burden of food allergies is much higher than estimated in this study.
To access the study, visit www.jacionline.org/inpress.
Patel, Dipen A, Holdford DA, Edwards E, Carroll NV. Estimating the economic burden of food-induced allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in the United States. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 201. doi 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.03.013.
Read the full article from FAAN at http://www.foodallergy.org/page/up-to-half-billion-dollars-spent-annually-to-treat-food-allergy-reactions .