Probiotic use may help prevent this body infection

In a new study, researchers found general probiotic use in the U.S. could save the health care payer and the economy around $1.4 billion in medical bills and lost productivity due to acute respiratory tract infections.

The research was conducted by a team from York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) and Cochrane Collaborative.

respiratory tract infections include influenza-like illnesses with symptoms ranging from a mild cold to the more serious flu.

Although most acute respiratory tract infection episodes resolve on their own, they result in a high number of doctor visits and pose a heavy burden on society and the health care system.

In the study, the team assessed how much the use of probiotics in the management of common acute respiratory tract infections could contribute to savings in healthcare costs in the U.S.

They reported probiotics use was linked to reduced number and duration of ILIs, antibiotic courses used and days absent from work.

The authors developed an economic model to estimate the cost savings of general use of probiotics in the U.S. They created a simulation (1:1000 scale) reproducing a population representative of the national demographics.

For their estimates, they used the 2017-18 Influenza Season of FluView from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other national databases.

The analysis showed that if everyone in the U.S. took probiotics, health care payers would save $373 million in respiratory tract infection-associated medical bills in one year.

These savings include the cost of more than two million courses of antibiotic prescriptions averted and correspond to a decrease of 54.5 million sick days.

When counting the savings from reduced productivity loss of 4.2 million workdays, the total savings for society would amount to $1.4 billion.

The team says with more evidence on which probiotics are effective in protecting against RTIs, it would be possible to generate more definitive estimates of the potential cost savings linked to their use.

This research was supported by an unrestricted grant from Chr. Hansen, a major producer of probiotic supplements.

One author of the study is Daniel Tancredi, an associate professor at UC Davis.

The study is published in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

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