Disease Burden

New report warns of huge economic impact of COPD, calls for global talks on the disease

COPD Uncovered, a new report issued 18 November 2009 reveals for the first time that people between the ages of 40 to 65 are emerging as the new face of this disease. Authored by the UK’s Education for Health and other leading experts, the report uncovers a new, younger majority of COPD patients, who are in the prime of their career, and financially responsible for the care of their children and ageing parents. The authors call for policymakers to read the report and challenge their thinking on how COPD should be addressed in this critical age group, who are highly depended upon by society as leading wage earners.

COPD affects 210 million people and is predicted to be the third leading cause of death globally in ten years time. A severely debilitating disease, COPD dramatically impairs the productivity of this population. In fact, the report found that people between 40 and 65 with COPD miss as many as ten hours of work per week because of their condition. On a global scale, that represents more than two billion working hours lost each week worldwide. Additionally, COPD causes nearly 28,000 years of lost productivity annually. The report deduces that if left unchecked, COPD could have significant global workforce and economic implications on patients, families, employers and society as the disease escalates.

“Given the potential economic impact, it is critical that 40 to 65 year olds with COPD are able to lead an active and productive life,” said Monica Fletcher, Chief Executive of Education for Health. “In releasing this report we want to spark an important global dialogue with key global stakeholders on how best to invest in earlier diagnosis and the management of these younger patients.”

Key insights from the report:

● COPD costs more than asthma and diabetes: The cost of COPD exceeds that of many other serious, longterm conditions including asthma and diabetes. The worldwide burden of COPD is nearly double that of diabetes and it causes more deaths.

● Effective COPD treatment must look beyond smoking cessation: It is true that the primary cause of COPD is cigarette smoke and smoking cessation is an important part of COPD management. Yet many former smokers develop symptoms and are diagnosed a decade or two after they stopped. In fact, even if all smoking stopped today, the effect on COPD statistics would not be seen for up to 20 years.

● COPD puts pressure on healthcare systems: One in six European and US patients had visited the ER or hospital in a six month period 2006-2007. Extrapolating these figures indicates that up to 64 million COPD patients globally may be admitted to hospital due to their condition each year. Additionally, a large majority of COPD patients suffer from co-morbidities, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, 40% suffer from heart disease and as many as 42% from high blood pressure.

● Families may also face burden: More women than men are now being be diagnosed with COPD(14) – a patient segment central to family care.

COPD Uncovered

COPD Uncovered represents the combined efforts of a multi-disciplinary committee of international experts, coming together to bring forward some of the most burning issues in COPD. Their aim is to highlight the impact of COPD in an understudied and ignored patient segment between the ages of 40 and 65.

The COPD Uncovered initiative is sponsored by Novartis Pharma AG.
COPD Uncovered can be downloaded from this URL:

ate of upload: 26th Jan 2010

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