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Alcohol biomarker test cuts care costs for chronically ill patients

suspect are heavier drinkers than they are admitting to," Miller said. "It's a more objective test that can corroborate what a patient or his family is saying."

Miller said the CDT test is especially helpful when a patient has received proper treatment and made lifestyle changes, but his or her condition is still not under control. A patient who is taking three medicines for hypertension might be able to control the condition with one drug, Miller said, after a CDT test confirms excessive alcohol consumption and the patient cuts back on alcohol use.

Miller was not involved in the CDT cost-benefit study from Fleming and his colleagues.

Today Medicare reimburses about $26 for the CDT test, Fleming said. But laboratory analysis of the blood test is not uniformly available across the United States.

Cost savings came mainly from decreases in hospitalization, fewer accidents and trauma incidents as well as a reduction in emergency room visits, Fleming said. Those economic benefits are realized within about four years after the test, the analysis estimates.

"Compared to other things -- like bypass surgery or (the cholesterol-lowering drug) Lipitor -- 48 months isn't a long time to get some kind of payoff," Fleming said. "That's a benefit for a company that has a long-term commitment to a patient it may not be for a patient that's changing insurance companies every year," he said.


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Contact: Mary Newcomb
mnewcomb-acer@earthlink.net
Center for the Advancement of Health
14-Nov-2005


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