PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 15, 2020) – Beyond Celiac, the leading catalyst for a celiac disease cure in the United States, sees a new study showing celiac disease patients face a significant economic burden from higher healthcare costs as an important step in the ongoing work to advance research and accelerate the discovery of new treatments.
In a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers from IBM Watson Health, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that in the year prior to diagnosis, those with celiac disease paid an average of about $4,000 more in all healthcare costs than controls. In the first year of follow-up, celiac disease patients paid an average of about $8,000 more than controls and in the second year, about $4,000 more. The study authors suggest that therapies that could improve disease control could result in lower overall cost to the healthcare system.
“This study illustrates the importance of building more awareness of the burden of celiac disease,” said Salvo Alesci, MD, Beyond Celiac chief scientist and strategy officer. “There is a burden born by patients and a burden on the healthcare system. Both can be reduced by accelerating the development of treatments for celiac disease and then making sure they become widely accessible to patients who need them.”
Beyond Celiac has been bringing together patients, researchers and pharmaceutical company, health insurance and Food and Drug Administration representatives to discuss the true economic impact of celiac disease, including missed work and school, as well as use of the healthcare system to deal with both the symptoms and complications of celiac disease. At the 2019 Beyond Celiac Research Summit, recognition and understanding of these burdens by scientists, federal regulators and health insurance companies was identified as key to getting past some of the barriers that have prevented celiac disease research from resulting in new treatment for patients.
“Beyond Celiac will continue to voice these concerns, and we applaud diligent research like this study that propels progress towards a cure,” added Alice Bast, CEO of Beyond Celiac.
Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, more than half of whom are still undiagnosed. The disease causes damage to the small intestine, resulting in debilitating symptoms, and if left untreated, can lead to serious long-term health problems including infertility and some types of cancer.