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Lupus is a Significant Cost to Employers, According to Thomson Reuters Study

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- A study published today in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine ( found that the mean annual price tag for lupus - including medical expenditures, absence from the job, and short-term disability costs - was nearly $20,000 per patient. The mean cost climbed to more than $60,000 per patient when lupus was accompanied by the kidney disease nephritis, as it often is. That's more than the average annual cost of other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters ( conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from the University of California at San Francisco, Emory University and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which funded the research.

The project analyzed the direct and indirect cost to employers of patients with lupus, with and without nephritis, and compared those cost burdens to that of other chronic diseases commonly found in an employed population.

"Lupus is a chronic, multi-system, autoimmune disease that primarily affects young people - particularly women - in their prime working years," said Ginger Carls, economist and researcher for Thomson Reuters and lead author of the study. "While rare, it is an expensive condition that imposes a significant burden on employers in terms of both productivity loss and direct healthcare costs. Therapies that can better manage lupus provide opportunities for savings to employers and improved quality of life for patients."

Researchers used administrative medical claims data from the Thomson Reuters MarketScan(R) databases, representing the healthcare experience of 17 million enrollees from over 100 large U.S. employers, to select patient samples for the study. Patients who had at least one inpatient or two outpatient lupus claims were matched with patients who had no indication of the disease but were similar in other respects (demographic, health plan, location, and health status characteristics).

They found that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus had significantly higher direct medical expenses compared to the matched patients. Mean total medical expenditures for the year were $19,502 - more than twice those of the control group during the same period. Short-term disability costs were also higher for lupus patients, though absence costs were not. Lupus patients with nephritis had much higher medical expenses. The mean annual total medical expenditures for these patients were almost four times higher than those for lupus patients without nephritis and $46,862 higher than those of the control group.

Using similar methods, the authors found that patients with asthma had annual costs of $8,907. Diabetes patients had annual costs of $14,709, and heart disease patients had annual costs of $17,860. The authors also examined the cost burden per employee, calculated by multiplying the cost per patient with the condition and the prevalence of that condition. Since lupus is relatively rare, the average cost of lupus per employee was $22. The average cost per employee for asthma was $191. For heart disease, this was $312.

About Thomson Reuters

The Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters produces insights, information, benchmarks and analysis that enable organizations to manage costs, improve performance and enhance the quality of healthcare. Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, scientific, healthcare and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 50,000 people in 93 countries. Thomson Reuters shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: TRI); Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: TRI); London Stock Exchange (LSE: TRIL); and Nasdaq (Nasdaq: TRIN). For more information, go to .

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