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Out-of-pocket expenditure for administration of benzathine penicillin G injections for secondary prophylaxis in patients with rheumatic heart disease: A registry-based data from a tertiary care center in Northern India.

Abstract

Background

Costs can be a major barrier to medication adherence in low and middle-income countries and are an important target for policy-level interventions. The use of benzathine penicillin G (BPG) for secondary prevention of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) averts substantial morbidity and mortality, yet the total out-of-pocket costs for patients receiving this intervention are unknown.

Objective

To estimate the total out-of-pocket costs for obtaining BPG prophylaxis among RHD patients in India.

Methods

We prospectively collected self-reported drug-, transportation-, and provider-related costs for secondary prophylaxis among RHD patients presenting for follow-up to a tertiary care centre in New Delhi, India. Monthly costs were estimated by adjusting unit costs by frequency of drug administration.

Results

The cost data provided by 420 patients [mean age (±SD) 11.6 (±2.9) years] was analysed. Majority of the patients were male (65.2%), hailed from rural areas (87.1%), and belonged to lower socioeconomic strata (73.3%). The median monthly total out-of-pocket costs (IQR) for obtaining BPG injections was Indian rupee (INR) 62.5 (42.5-117.0). The median costs for procuring the drug (IQR) was INR 34.0(30.0-39.0). Whereas median costs (IQR) for health care provider and transportation was INR 16.0 [0-32.0]) and INR 11 [0-31.0] respectively. When expressed as mean (SD), the costs for transportation constituted 50% of the total costs, whereas the mean cost for drug procurement and drug administration constituted 30% and 22% of the total costs respectively.

Conclusion

RHD patients receiving BPG prophylaxis incur substantial out-of-pocket costs, with transportation costs constituting nearly half of the total expenditures. National investments in RHD control must be strategically directed at improving health care access and drug supply in order to lower the total costs of secondary prophylaxis and improve adherence rates.

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