What is the cost of TB treatment?
The cost of TB treatment depends on the country that a patient lives in. In most low and middle income countries the aim is to provide TB diagnosis and treatment free of charge within public health services.
A number of pharmaceutical companies have special lower rates for their TB drugs in low and middle income countries. This means that in these countries the cost to the government of providing the TB treatment is lower. Often this will apply to the cost of drugs for both drug sensitive TB as well as drug resistant TB.
But even when a country's government provides free diagnosis and drug treatment, the patient may still have to pay for indirect costs such as the cost of transport to the local health clinic.
Another issue is the matter of food. Many patients with TB are counselled that they should have a healthy diet. In low and middle income countries this may be particularly difficult with patients struggling to get enough food to eat. There is more about TB & Food.
Some examples of the cost of TB treatment in different countries follow.
The cost of treatment in India
Many people believe that TB treatment in India is only free if the drugs are obtained from an RNTCP government health centre. But with the aim of eliminating TB in India, the government has arranged for private practioners to be paid for the TB treatment that they provide. So usually the patient will not have to pay for the direct costs of their TB treatment. Treatment for drug resistant TB is usually only available from a government approved centre.
Cost of TB treatment in South Africa
In South Africa both the diagnosis and treatment of drug sensitive and drug resistant TB is free for the patient. However, patients incur substantial costs accessing health services, with the poorest patients incurring the highest costs. Also, it is claimed by some people that access to a government disability grant is only possible during the continuation phase of treatment.1Foster N, The economic burden of TB diagnosis and treatment in South Africa, Social Science & Medicine, 2015, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953615000726?via%3Dihub
TB treatment in the United Kingdom (UK)
In the UK the cost of treating a case of TB is estimated to be £5,000 for drug sensitive TB. For drug resistant TB the cost could be between £50,000 and £100,000. This is the cost to the government.2The ongoing problem of tuberculosis in the UK, 2013, the Lancet, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60910-1/fulltext
The patient does not need to pay anything, regardless of whether they are legally in the UK or not.
Treatment in the United States
In the United States the average cost of treating and managing a TB case was $34,600 in 2015. The average cost of treating a case of MDR TB was given as $110,900.3A systematic synthesis of direct costs to treat and manage tuberculosis disease applied to California, 2015, BMC Research Notes, 2017; 10:434 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577675/ Another paper gave the cost of treating a patient with MDR TB as $53,300 and $164,000 for a patient with XDR TB. This was just for the direct costs.4Treatment Practices, Outcomes, and Costs of Multidrug-Resistant and Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, United States, 2005-2007, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 20, Number 5 - May 2014, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/20/5/13-1037_article
The cost to the patient will depend on whether they have insurance, and what they may qualify for under Medicare.
This page was last updated in January 2020.
Author Annabel Kanabus
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