The real price of any disease is all that it causes to the sufferers and carers. But have you ever thought how this affects you? Parkinson’s as any other disease poses an economic burden both to sufferers and to national health systems, where these are available. But how much does it really cost?
As with any other disease, calculating the cost really depends on the model used. What should be taken into account? Medication cost? Care cost? Doctor and nurse time? Hospital or surgery use? Procedures consumables? Benefits paid out? Money lost from the economy because of reduced ability to work? The parameters are a lot and the numbers can range. What will become evident is that even at the cheapest scenario the cost of Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be very high, given that we are talking about a single disease.
In the US alone Parkinson’s is calculated to cost $14.4 billion a year (£9 billion – just keep this number in mind), with indirect costs (e.g., reduced employment) are conservatively estimated at $6.3 billion (or close to $10,000 per person with PD). The same study predicts the cost doubling by 2040. This is $28 billion or £18 billion. Scientists from the National Parkinson’s Foundation (NPF) used a predictive economic model and showed that just by slowing progression by 20% would $60,657 per patient. Stopping disease progression saved $442,429 per patient.
In the UK there have been a few good studies. Finely and associates calculated the cost between £0.4 and £3.3 billion a year depending on how one calculates that. In the same study they arrived to a concrete conclusion that the largest component of direct cost is typically inpatient care and nursing home costs, while prescription drugs are the smallest contributor. The same author in a more recent study illustrated the increasing costs of advancing PD, in particular related to the time spent in “OFF state”.
So if one takes the lower end of the cost spectrum the UK and the US spend we see that ~£10 billion is spent annually. Imagine the things we could do with this money helping people in the UK, the US and all over the globe. The UN says that the over 60s are going to be 1.8 billion by 2050. This means 18,000,000 potential patients and not all of them are going to be in economies that can support them with free or even paid healthcare. This is a significant problem and that why we need to start looking for a cure now.
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