β Thalassemia major is characterized by hemolytic anemia, ineffective erythropoiesis and hemosiderosis. About 4% of the world population carries a Thalassemia gene. Management includes blood transfusions and iron chelation. However, this treatment is costly, and population screening may be significantly more cost beneficial.
The purpose of the current study is to analyze the cost of running a prevention program for β Thalassemia in Israel and to compare it to the actual expenses incurred by treating Thalassemia patients.
Three cost parameters were analyzed and compared: the prevention program, routine treatment of patients and treatment of complications. An estimation of the expenses needed to treat patients who present with complications was calculated based on our ongoing experience in treating deteriorating patients.
Results and Conclusions
The cost of preventing one affected newborn was $63,660 compared to $1,971,380 for treatment of a patient during 50 years (mean annual cost: $39,427). Thus, the prevention of 45 affected newborns over a ten year period represents a net saving of $88.5 million to the health budget. Even after deducting the cost of the prevention program ($413.795/year), the program still represents a benefit of $76 million over ten years. Each prevented case could pay the screening and prevention program for 4.6 years.