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Fitch: Chronic diseases pose challenges to US economic growth

Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases pose challenges to U.S. economic growth, according to a report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

In the U.S., total annual costs of leading chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, obesity and cancer, exceed $1 trillion.

The report, citing research from the Milken Institute, said total direct costs due to chronic diseases reached $1.1 trillion in 2016, while indirect costs were $3.7 trillion.

Further, the aging U.S. population and a concurrent rise in non-communicable diseases is expected to double this economic burden within 30 years.

More industry stakeholders will adopt health technology assessments and pharmacoeconomics — a discipline that compares the value of one drug to another — in the U.S. as value-based products will be more likely to secure high prices and favorable reimbursement from payers, Fitch said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. increased to $327 billion in 2017 from $245 billion in 2012.

Meanwhile, a 2017 report by the American Heart Association showed cardiovascular disease brought direct costs of about $318 billion and indirect costs of about $237 billion. About 103 million people in the U.S. have at least one cardiovascular disease, and by 2035, the economic burden of this disease is expected to double.

For arthritis, total medical expenditure and earnings losses attributable to the disease was $304 billion in 2013, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Direct medical costs for cancer, the second most common cause of death in the U.S., reached $80 billion in 2015, based on data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, the disease and other dementias will cost the U.S. about $290 billion in 2019, and the figure will more than triple by 2050.

For obesity, the yearly national cost was about $114 billion, according to a 2011 quantitative systematic review. The financial burden of obesity is at least two to three times greater in the U.S. compared with other developed regions.