Better therapy for Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson disease (PD) is a degenerative condition of the brain associated with motor symptoms (slow movement, tremor, rigidity and imbalance) and other complications including cognitive impairment, mental health disorders, sleep disorders, pain and sensory disturbances.

The motor symptoms of the disease result from the death of nerve cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain. These nerve cells project dopamine producing nerve fibres into the striatum. During the early stages of the disease sufficient dopamine is still produced to permit normal movement. However as the disease advances and the dopamine level in the striatum falls below 20-30% of normal, the symptoms become increasingly troublesome.

The Parkinson's tsunami

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease.

Over 1 million patients in the USA are living with Parkinson’s disease.

The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is 2.7%. This is equivalent to 1 in every 37 people being diagnosed at some point in their lifetime.

There are more than 60,000 new cases in the USA each year.

Globally, disability and death due to PD are increasing faster than for any other neurological disorder. The prevalence has doubled in the past 25 years. Global estimates in 2019 showed over 8.5 million individuals with PD. Current estimates suggest that, in 2019, PD resulted in 5.8 million disability-adjusted life years, an increase of 81% since 2000, and caused 329 000 deaths, an increase of over 100% since 2000. (World Health Organisation)

Impact on families and carers

Informal carers (i.e. most commonly family members and friends) spend many hours daily providing care for people living with PD. 

This can be overwhelming. Physical, emotional and financial pressures can cause great stress to families and carers, and support is required from the health, social, financial and legal systems.

The economic impact of Parkinson's disease

The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) announced findings from a new study that estimated the total economic burden to be $51.9 billion annually.

The study was conducted using multiple data sources publicly available from Medicare, the CDC, and the US Census Bureau, in addition to other survey tools, to fully explain and analyze the cost components of the disease. Of the total estimated financial burden, $25.4 billion resulted from direct medical costs such as hospitalizations and medication, while $26.5 billion was attributed to other expenses that included missed work, lost wages, early forced retirement, and family caregiver time.

The study also found that the federal government spent about $25 billion each year providing care for individuals with PD. Social Security covered nearly $2 billion of the cost, while Medicare paid another $23 billion. MJFF

$52 Billion per year

“There are a lot of surprise costs when you have Parkinson’s,” said Steve DeWitte, a patient with Parkinson’s disease from New Preston, Connecticut, in a statement. “Beyond the rising costs of medications and healthcare, my family has shouldered the financial burden of my having to leave the workforce 15 years earlier than I had planned. That means our income dropped by more than half, and we’ve had to figure out how to stretch our budget to cover the everyday household tasks I can no longer physically do.” AJMC