Economic impacts of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) therapy shortage and the proposed solutions for patients with non-muscle invasive bladder Cancer in Aseer Province, Saudi Arabia

Bladder Cancer

J Family Med Prim Care. 2020 Jun 30;9(6):2758-2762. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_171_20. eCollection 2020 Jun.


OBJECTIVE: To report the magnitude, the financial and the economic impact of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) shortage in our institute and transfer of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) patients to higher centers to receive the treatment.

METHODS: This is a retrospective study, between January 2015 and December 2017, the cases of NMIBC diagnosed at Aseer Central Hospital, Abha, Saudi Arabia were studied. Demographic features, clinical presentations, histopathological features, and the BCG therapy shortage and its economic impact were addressed.

RESULTS: Over a three years study review of 62 urothelial bladder cancer, NMIBC was diagnosed in 55 (89%) patients. Forty-three (78%) patients were males and 12 (22%) patients were females. The mean age ± standard deviation (SD) (range) in this cohort was 59 ± 12 years (38-87). Gross hematuria was the main presentation in 51 (92%) patients of this cohort. Dysuria and other lower urinary tract symptoms were the presentations in 18 (32%) patients. Smoking history was positive in 33 (60%) patients and the rest 22 (40%) patients denied any form of tobacco consumptions. The BCG eligible were 46 (84%) patients of all NMIBC patients in this study. Twenty-seven (59%) patients of them received BCG in our institute. The rest 19 (41%) patients were opted to be transferred to a higher medical center to receive the BCG because of the BCG shortage in our center. The financial cost of traveling to receive the six-weeks induction BCG therapy was on average of 7200 Saudi riyals (1.745 €) for every patient.

CONCLUSIONS: The BCG shortage in our institute is almost approaching half of eligible BCG cases. This has had an economic impact on the health budget. Such health catastrophe could be mitigated with proper health plans of a provision of the BCG to all tertiary care centers. Alternative therapies for such cases should be considered in cases of global BCG shortage.