Increased morbidity and mortality, reduced quality of life comparable to that observed in diseases such as AIDS or rheumatoid arthritis: as many as two thirds of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) report being restricted every day in carrying out normal activities work or home. “Limitations that also have an impact on healthcare costs. It is estimated that SLE treatment in Italy has an average cost of 2,513 euros for each patient. The direct costs of the disease are around 4,000 euros a year for severe and 2 thousand for the less severe forms”, said Andrea Doria, president-elect of the Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR) in his speech at the press conference “Systemic lupus erythematosus, new treatment opportunities”, promoted today in Rome on the occasion of the World Lupus Day to take stock of the important therapeutic novelties currently available to control the disease.
“The highest cost component – underlines Doria – is precisely that of medicines. Instead, among the indirect costs of the disease there are certainly the reduction in working capacity, therefore days lost in the workplace and an increase in the request for sick days” .
In patients affected by the disease in a severe form – it emerged from the meeting – the median of direct healthcare costs is 1.6 times higher than that recorded in patients with SLE in a non-severe form. Patients with severe SLE than patients with mild form more frequently experience severe exacerbations, which lead to hospitalization. “For this reason – remarks Doria – early diagnosis and rapid management of the patient is essential so that the therapeutic plan can give the best results. The approval and reimbursement of the monoclonal antibody anifrolumab changes clinical practice and introduces a new treatment paradigm from the early stages of the disease. Thanks to its mechanism of action, anifrolumab allows for disease control, allows for lower glucocorticoid intake, and is characterized by a rapid onset, such as to induce early remission and prevention of organ damage caused by disease activity and to which the side effects of the drugs currently in use contribute”.
The onset of systemic lupus erythematosus often occurs at a young age, already during adolescence. Hence Doria’s appeal to young people: “It is necessary to pay attention to the first alarm bells, including joint pain, skin rashes, photosensitivity and alterations in urine and blood tests. Adherence to therapy is also very important because when we manage to put the disease into remission, the patients feel better, they tend to suspend the therapy and this is a big problem because it is then responsible for the worsening of the course of the whole disease” he concludes.