What's Hot in PD? The Weather Forecast for Parkinson’s Disease Calls for Worldwide Economic Storm

In a decade where most of the newspaper headlines have been dominated with gloomy economic forecasts, most experts can agree that health care expenses are driving much of the world’s current economic burden. Austerity measures, if applied to research into chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, could have terrible long-term effects that will further damage the world’s economic infrastructure. There are three recent and important papers that address the short and long-term economic burden of Parkinson’s disease.

In 2007 Ray Dorsey constructed the first sobering weather forecast for Parkinson’s disease. In the world’s most populous nations, the number of Parkinson’s sufferers would double to almost 30 million by the year 2030. As life expectancy increased, so too would the number of young and also old Parkinson’s sufferers. A storm of worldwide economic burden would soon be churning up speed, and it would be headed for every occupied continent on the planet earth.

In 2013, Kowal and colleagues constructed an economic model of Parkinson’s disease that was designed to estimate “disease prevalence, excess healthcare use, medical costs, and nonmedical costs by using the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 to 2050 population data.” This model allowed the researchers to estimate the current and projected burden of Parkinson’s disease. The shocker was revealed when the model predicted that the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease would double by 2040. In the U.S. it was estimated that we spend $14 billion dollars a year on Parkinson’s disease care, which was $8.1 billion more than we spend on a similar American citizen without the disease. Another $6 billion dollars was lost due to employment issue in Parkinson’s patients.

In 2013, Johnson and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Parkinson's Foundation took another approach to constructing a Parkinson’s disease disease-specificc model. The Penn investigators were interested in the “economic consequences of slower rates of Parkinson’s progression.” They used a technique called a Markov model, and through this technique they were able to predict the potential savings associated with slowing disease progression. Slowing progression by just 20% saved $60,657 per patient. Stopping disease progression saved $442,429 per patient.

It is now clear from multiple independent sources that the weather forecast is predicting a future storm of Parkinson’s disease cases, and that with the storm will come with a downpour of bills and economic burden. These new Parkinson’s disease cases, along with existing sufferers, will have a social and an economic impact on all countries and cultures. We will need to expand our care models and our research to address, and to reduce this burden. It will be important that we advocate for more dollars for Parkinson’s disease research, as it will surely be a wise investment for the future of all nations.

Selected References

Okun, M.S. The 10 Secrets to a Happier Life with Parkinson’s Disease. In Press: 2013.

Kowal SL, Dall TM, Chakrabarti R, Storm MV, Jain A. The current and projected economic burden of Parkinson's disease in the United States. Mov Disord. 2013 Feb 21. doi: 10.1002/mds.25292. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23436720 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Johnson SJ, Diener MD, Kaltenboeck A, Birnbaum HG, Siderowf AD. An economic model of Parkinson's disease: Implications for slowing progression in the United States. Mov Disord. 2013 Feb 12. doi: 10.1002/mds.25328. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23404374 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


You can find out more about our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the Center of Excellence, University of Florida Health Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. Dr. Okun is also the author of the Amazon #1 Parkinson's Best Seller 10 Secrets to a Happier Life and 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease.

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