Background: The occurrence and prevention of gastrointestinal ulcers during use of NSAIDs has become a major healthcare issue.
Objective: To determine the direct medical costs of serious NSAID-related ulcer complications.
Method: An observational cost-of-illness study was conducted in a large general hospital serving a population of 152 989 persons. From November 2001 to December 2003 all consecutive patients hospitalised with serious NSAID-related ulcer complications were identified. Serious NSAID-related ulcer complications were defined as ulcerations of the stomach or proximal duodenum causing perforation, obstruction or bleeding that occurred during the use of NSAIDs, necessitating hospitalisation of the patient. Data were retrieved with respect to days hospitalised and the number and type of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. The main outcome measure was estimated mean direct medical costs of resources used.
Results: A total of 104 patients were hospitalised with serious NSAID-related ulcer complications (incidence 31.4 per 100 000 persons per year). Most patients were elderly (mean 70.4 years, SD 16.7). In-hospital mortality was 10.6%. Mean direct medical costs were epsilon 8375 (95% CI 7067, 10 393). On the basis of these results, we estimated that approximately 5105 people are hospitalised with serious NSAID-related ulcer complications in The Netherlands each year, of whom 541 die in hospital. The total annual direct medical costs for serious NSAID-related ulcer complications in The Netherlands were estimated to be 4E42 754 375 (95% Cl 36 077 035, 53 056 265).
Conclusions: Serious NSAID-related ulcer complications have a mortality rate of 10.6% in The Netherlands and the annual direct medical costs to the country of such complications are approximately epsilon 42 750 000.