Parkinson’s disease prevalence and costs

Parkinson’s disease.

The costs for society go beyond those affected.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. More than 10 million people are affected worldwide⁽¹⁾. The most significant risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is age. With an increasing share of the population aged 65 and up⁽²⁾ ⁽³⁾, the number of Parkinson’s disease diagnosis are likely to rise.

The prevalence of cases increases almost exponentially after the age of 50, to reach 1-3% of the population in European and North American patients older than 80 years⁽⁴⁾ ⁽⁵⁾. Studies conducted over the past 20 years show that in the US alone, 1 million people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s⁽¹⁾. Projections indicate that if we could live to be 120 years old, 100% will get the disease.

Societal costs.

Costs for society are significant, estimated to be $13.9B and $25B in the EU and US, respectively⁽¹⁾. Partly due to the requirement of highly skilled personnel at hospitals.

Most of the time, treatments are conducted by a neurological professional whose time is extremely precious and costly. A Swedish study indicates that the cost distribution is 52% for inpatient care, 27% for outpatient care, and 21% for drugs⁽⁶⁾.

Societal costs for lost productivity are also considerable. Early retirement, absenteeism, or temporary work leaves also creates productivity losses. The severity and course of disease progression pose a tremendous burden on patients and their caregivers, health and social services, and society. A large responsibility for informal care falls on elderly spouses and working-age children.


(1) Mateus, Coloma. Health Economics and Cost of Illness in Parkinson’s Disease. European Neurological Review, 2013;8(1):6–9.

(2) Eurostat population structure and ageing statistics

(3) ACL population structure and ageing statistics, US Census Bureau

(4) Schrag A, Ben Shlomo Y, Quinn N. How common are complications of Parkinson’s disease? Journal of neurology 2002; vol. 249:-23.

(5) Findley L, et al. Direct economic impact of Parkinson’s disease: a research survey in the United Kingdom. Mov Disord 2003; 18(10): 1139-1145.

(6) J Lökk, et al. Drug and treatment costs in Parkinson’s disease patients in Sweden. Acta Neurol Scand. 2012 Feb;125(2):142-7