The economic burden associated with treating TB patients in the European Union (EU) outweighs the cost of investing in more efficient vaccines against the disease, according to study findings in the European Respiratory Journal.

Using a systematic review of literature and institutional websites for the 27 EU member states, researchers summarized economic data on the treatment cost of TB cases in 2011 and discovered the average cost-per-case of TB in the EU was upwards of €10,000 (roughly $13,000 U.S. dollars).

Specifically, treating the average cost-per-case for drug-susceptible TB in the old EU-15 countries, plus Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia, was $13,712. For multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB the price rose to $76,299; and patients with extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB cost, on average, $227,704 to treat. In the remaining new EU states, the costs amounted to $4,570 for drug-susceptible TB and $32,227 for MDR-TB/XDR-TB.

“The figures in this study have shown that the burden of TB on both the economy and on society in Europe is huge, particularly with the increasing problem of drug-resistant strains,” said Francesco Blasi, President of the European Respiratory Society. “The widely used BCG vaccine was introduced in 1921; it is out of date and has unpredictable success in preventing TB. It is time to invest more of our resources in preventing this debilitating condition.”