New Study Confirms the Need For More Research Dollars

LRI responds to new study of lupus-related costs

New York, New York (January 2009) - In response to a study published in the current Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that reveals the high annual financial costs of lupus and lupus nephritis (kidney disease), the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) issued the following statement:

"The new study on the direct and indirect costs of this complex and unpredictable autoimmune disease confirms the urgent need for research funding to discover safer and more effective treatments, and ultimately to accelerate finding a cure," said Margaret G. Dowd, president of the LRI. "New treatments are needed to relieve the human suffering caused by the disease and to ease the financial burden it places on patients, families, employers, government, and society as a whole."

"Nearly 50 years have passed without a major new treatment for lupus," continued Dowd. "The LRI is dedicated to identifying and funding bold and innovative approaches to prevent, treat and cure lupus. Since 2001, we have awarded more than $23 million in novel research grants to 85 scientists at leading institutions nationwide. To date, 65 percent of our grant recipients have since secured additional funding, totaling more than $60 million, from the NIH and other sources to expand on their breakthrough research. But while we have made great strides, it is critical to increase research funding in order to create the next generation of lupus therapies."

The study, conducted by the health care business of Thomson Reuters (Thomson Healthcare) in collaboration with the University of California at San Francisco, Emory University, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, found that the cost of lupus, on a mean annual basis, was nearly $20,000 per patient. The study used administrative claims data to measure costs. For patients with lupus nephritis, the mean annual cost escalated to over $60,000 per patient. The findings also revealed that lupus has a heftier mean annual price tag than many other diseases, including asthma ($8,907), diabetes ($14,079) and heart disease ($17,860), while lupus nephritis is the most expensive disease in annual mean direct and indirect costs.

"We are grateful to Thomson Reuters, the University of California at San Francisco, Emory University, and Bristol-Myers Squibb for issuing these findings. By beginning to document the direct and indirect costs of lupus and by putting those costs in the context of other diseases, the study confirms what we in the lupus community already know: lupus places an extraordinary burden on individuals, their families, employers and society as a whole," said Dowd.

As lupus is most likely to affect young people, particularly women in their childbearing years, costs associated with lupus will be a growing concern for society until we find effective new treatments for the disease. To find out more about lupus, research progress and clinical trials, log on to http://www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.

About The Lupus Research Institute: Pioneering Discovery to Prevent, Treat and End Lupus

The Lupus Research Institute (LRI), the country's only nonprofit organization singularly devoted to novel research in lupus, champions innovation, encourages scientific creativity and risks exploring uncharted territory to bring new scientific solutions to this complex and dangerous autoimmune disease.