This paper investigates the economic burden of multiple sclerosis (MS) in Sweden in 1994. The cost structure was compared with costs from a similar study from 1991 and 3 studies from the UK. The cost-of-illness method, based on the human capital theory, was used to estimate the economic burden of MS in Sweden, and a prevalence approach and a top-down method were chosen. Both direct and indirect costs were estimated. The total cost (in Swedish kronor) of MS was SEK1.736 billion1 in Sweden in 1994. The indirect costs (production losses as a result of morbidity) accounted for about 80% of the total cost. While the cost of inpatient care was substantial, the drug cost was minimal by comparison. The same cost pattern was present in 1991 in Sweden; however, since the transfer of costs for long term care to the municipalities in 1992, 95% of total cost of the disease fell outside of the healthcare sector. Similar cost structures have been shown in other studies, for example, in the UK. The cost pattern shown in this study, with low costs for medical care and drugs, reflects the fact that few treatment possibilities have existed for MS. However, new relatively expensive drugs have recently been introduced, which may alter the future cost. At present, there is uncertainty regarding how many patients will be treated and the future prices of these new drugs. The cost pattern of MS may very well change dramatically in the future, and successive cost-of-illness studies is one way to assess the consequences of the introduction of new technology.
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