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Taking probiotics can reduce the costs of flu-like sickness

Taking probiotics could very well be the secret weapon to help reduce the number of sick days from flu-like sickness. A study reveals how the health benefits of probiotics can lead to significant healthcare savings for the individual and society.

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Flu-like sickness pose a heavy burden on the healthcare system as they are frequent, and they can be severe. Each year, flu-like sickness results in a high number of visits to primary care physicians (PCPs), prescriptions of antibiotics and lost work days. The cost of flu-like sickness to the US economy is estimated to be $11.2 billion1.

Taking probiotics can help reduce the number of sick days and lost work days

The study "Probiotics Reduce Health Care Cost and Societal Impact of Flu-Like Respiratory Tract Infections in the USA: An Economic Modeling Study" shows that in the US alone, taking probiotics can reduce the number of sick days by over 54 million days per year. It builds upon existing data, showing a positive correlation between taking certain probiotics and reducing the number of incidents, duration and severity of flu-like sickness. The findings show the significant savings potential taking probiotics can have by reducing the number of sick days, visits to the doctor and prescriptions.

What is flu-like sickness?

A fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and a cough or a sore throat.

– Center for Disease Control and Prevention

When people get flu-like sickness, on average they miss 1.7 days of work2, which can be costly for society and the individual. The study reveals that taking probiotics can help reduce the days missed from work due to flu-like sickness by 61%. Translated into monetary terms it can save the US economy a productivity loss of $919 million per year.

Taking probiotics can help reduce the number of antibiotic prescriptions by 30%3

The study shows that in the US alone, up to 2.2 million antibiotic prescriptions can be avoided each year if the population takes probiotics. Currently it is estimated that nearly 1/3 of prescribed antibiotics in the US are redundant4.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today, by 2050 it is expected to exceed cancer as the main cause of death. 

About the study

Chr. Hansen has sponsored a health economic study, conducted and reviewed by independent academic and industry experts and published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

The facts


54 million sick days can be avoided each year if the US population takes probiotics.

1.7 days

When people get flu-like sickness, on average they miss 1.7 days1 of work.


Taking probiotics can help reduce lost work days by 61%.

 Putri WCWS et al. Vaccine. 2018, ”Economic burden of seasonal influenza in the United States.”
2  Palmer et. al. 2010
3  The Cochrane Collaboration, Hao, Dong and Wu, 2015
4 CDC Newsroom 2016, CDC: 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary

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