Economic impact of allergy prevention


  • M. Mugford


Estimation of the economic impact of allergy and allergy prevention must consider many qualifying factors before a single calculation should be made. Such factors include the variety of viewpoints of different stakeholders, the limitations of economic research tools, and the extension of health economics beyond money and market. Costs of illness can be analysed in a top-down approach (measuring at the crude economic sector level) or bottom-up (using cohorts of the population). At present, economic studies comparing treatments for allergies increasingly use cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses. However, existing data often have limited reliability, comparability and reproducibility. Current estimates have been made for direct costs for asthma, contact dermatitis and allergic rhinitis (~10 billion Euro, 1997 price level), but economic costs of food allergy are harder to estimate, because of lack of knowledge about the epidemiology and social impact of food allergy. Such costs might fall into different economic sectors, such as individual household, health sector, food industry and public sector. A cost in one sector may be a benefit to another sector. Much interdisciplinary collaboration is still needed to make future cost-of-illness research and economic evaluations reliable.