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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 5, Suppl C, Pages 42C-44C

Pharmacoeconomics of Antibiotic Therapy

Jacques Le Lorier

Departmenls of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Copyright © 1994 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


During the past few years new drugs with greatly improved efficacy have become available to physicians and their patients. The higher purchase price of these new drugs is quite important and is quoted as a significant cause of the escalating cost of health care. Antibiotics have played a highly visible role in this therapeutic scene and account for $1.2 billion of the yearly national pharmaceutical budget in the United States. From an economic point of view, costs arise because resources are limited and have alternative uses. The real cost of prescribing a new, more expensive drug, may be that other drugs and/or services become unavailable. Unsurprisingly, considering the magnitude of the slakes, we have seen the recent development and expansion of subsets of the field of health economics. Of these, cost of illness studies and pharmacoeconomics have played a prominent role. The ultimate objective of these relatively new tools is to help clinicians and decision makers in selling priori lies. A pharmacoeconomic study can have different perspectives. Cost and benefits can be calculated with respect to the patients', society's, the payers, or the health care providers, point of view. The perspective chosen for a study determines what is counted as cost or benefit; therefore, the economic impact of an intervention may be quite different depending on the perspective taken. Pharmacoeconomics is particularly relevant to antibiotic therapy since it can demonstrate that the price of acquisition of the drug plays a relatively modest part in the global pharmacoeconomic aspect of tl1c treatment of bacterial infections. This is easily understood when it is realized that failure to treat a bacterial infection due to an inadequate choice of antibiotic promptly can result in avoidable hospitalization, prolongation of hospitalization, permanent disability and even death.