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In Press: IBD constitutes a significant economic burden to Finnish healthcare system


A recent study, accepted for publication in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, utilized real-world data from the Auria Clinical Informatics data lake to characterize the healthcare costs of Finnish inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients treated with the anti-TNF-alpha inhibitor infliximab.

Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), which are chronic immune-mediated diseases characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and extraintestinal complications. In the USA and Europe approximately 6 million individuals live with IBD, producing estimated annual healthcare cost of 4.6–5.6 billion euros. Finland belongs to an area of high IBD prevalence, where it affects approximately 0.9% of the population. However, data on the treatment costs of Finnish IBD patients is relatively scarce and has mainly been collected before the introduction of biological therapies.

The current real-world study characterized the healthcare resource use and cost profile of IBD among Finnish patients treated with the first-line biological agent infliximab. The electronic health record data of 45 CD patients and 110 UC patients treated with infliximab in the Hospital District of Southwest Finland was collected via the data lake of Auria Clinical Informatics. Notably, data extracted this way reflects actual healthcare resource use and related costs.

The results from this study demonstrate significant costs of IBD treatment, and that these are dominated by the use of biological agents. The total annual cost per patient was €10,243 in the CD cohort and €10,770 in the UC cohort, where infliximab treatment constituted 60.3% and 53.4% of the cost, respectively. The total health care service costs were found to be higher in UC patients (€4,088) compared to the CD patients (€2,909), mainly due to the higher cost of surgery in UC, while patients with CD had a higher cost of biologicals. Hospitalization and surgery accounted for 19% and <1% of the healthcare costs in CD and 23% and 1% in UC, respectively.

To conclude, IBD is known to be associated with a high economic burden to society due to its early onset and chronic character. Together with reports from other countries, our study shows that the costs of IBD are increasingly driven by biologic agents and less by hospitalizations and surgery. This study provides detailed characterization of the cost landscape of IBD in Finland, which is of great importance when designing treatment optimization strategies in the era of biosimilars.

This study was sponsored by Takeda Oy.


Ylisaukko-oja T, Torvinen S, Ventola H, Schmidt S, Herrala S, Kononoff J, Voutilainen M. Healthcare Resource Utilization and Treatment Costs of Finnish Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Treated with Infliximab. Scand J Gastroenterol. Published online: 16 Jun 2019. DOI: 10.1080/00365521.2019.1627579

Inkeri Spoljaric

Inkeri Spoljaric

Inkeri has worked in one of the leading neuroscience laboratories in Finland for six years, specializing in developmental neuroscience. Two months into her career at MedEngine, she defended her doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki. In addition to her love of life sciences, Inkeri has a long-lived passion for scientific communication. She also loves learning and discovering new things and enjoys tasks with a creative aspect. Outside of work, Inkeri enjoys sports and spending time in nature. Although a very mediocre cook herself, Inkeri is a food enthusiast and believes that the best weekends and holidays revolve around good food.