The Economic Impact of Parkinson’s Disease and the Role of Stem Cell Therapy

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects about 1% of over-60s and 2-3% of over-75s.

With no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatment focuses on slowing down the progression of the condition, as well as managing the day-to-day symptoms.

After Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s is the second most common progressive nervous system disorder, which means there is a significant economic case for improved therapies.

There is already evidence for the use of stem cells for Parkinson’s disease treatment, and early intervention has shown the most improved outcomes.

The Economic Impact of Parkinson’s Disease

The cost of Parkinson’s disease arises from a number of different factors:

  • Its relatively high prevalence in the older population
  • Its ongoing degenerative nature
  • The cost of Parkinson’s disease treatment
  • The cost of managing symptoms and disabilities
  • The economic cost due to lost productivity

All of this combines to create a large economic burden, which worsens as the condition progresses.

Costs associated with PD treatment and management

In 2019, the Michael J Fox Foundation, supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation, published research that measured the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease in the US at $52 billion per year.

Of this, half was due to medical treatment (e.g. medication and hospital costs) while the remainder was linked with issues like forced retirement, family members providing care, loss of earnings and sick days.

The economic toll on individuals and families affected by PD

As noted, the costs of Parkinson’s disease – both living with the condition and treating it – fall not only on the patient but also on the caregivers who support them.

Todd Sherer, CEO of the Michael J Fox Foundation, wrote about the 2019 research: “The study shows that costs of Parkinson’s to our nation are nearly double previous estimates… the burden of Parkinson’s affects patients, their families and their friends.”

By delaying the progression of symptoms, costs can be reduced, as severe symptoms are more difficult to care for. This allows patients to enjoy a better quality of life for longer, and at lower economic cost to themselves, their families and the state.

The Promise of Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Organizations like Swiss Medica are investigating links between Parkinson’s and stem cells to develop promising new therapies for the condition.

Early intervention using stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease has shown the best results, with pronounced clinical improvement and halted progression.

While a stem cell cure for Parkinson’s disease may be some way off, treatment can improve mobility, speech and ability to engage in daily activity for many patients, according to Parkinson’s stem cell trials.



Economic Implications of Stem Cell Therapy as a Treatment for PD

So, how much do Parkinson’s stem cells cost compared with other treatments for the condition?

Potential cost savings in long-term care and treatment

The exact stem cell Parkinson’s treatment cost depends on the patient and includes several different considerations:

  • The severity of the patient’s Parkinson’s disease
  • The presence of any comorbidities
  • The duration of stem cell treatment
  • Any other therapies to be provided

However, by intervening early, using stem cells for Parkinson’s disease can deliver cumulative cost savings, especially compared with the most costly later stages of the condition.

Possible impact on productivity and quality of life

Indirect costs associated with loss of productivity, workplace absences and early retirement can also be mitigated by treating Parkinson’s disease with stem cells.

Some of the improvements seen in Parkinson’s stem cell trials include:

  • Improved speech
  • Improved chewing
  • Improved swallowing
  • Improved walking
  • Minimized tremors
  • Minimized rigidity
  • Minimized involuntary movements
  • Longer walking distance
  • Improved independence
  • Better able to complete routine activities

Many patients also show improvement on the unified Parkinson’s disease rating scale (UPDRS), allowing them to remain employed and productive for longer.

Regulatory and ethical considerations of stem cell therapy

Historically, there have been ethical concerns about the use of embryonic stem cells in research and medical treatment; however, this is no longer a problem.

Patients are able to provide their own mesenchymal stem cells for Parkinson’s disease treatment, sampled from different parts of the patient’s body:

  • Adipose tissue
  • Bone marrow
  • Venous blood
  • Oral cavity mucous membrane
  • Skin behind ear

In cases where the patient is unable to supply stem cells in this way, an adult donor may be used, again removing the need for embryonic stem cells to be involved in the process.

In conclusion

While there is no guaranteed Parkinson’s stem cell cure, stem cell therapy has shown a variety of improvements in many patients in clinical trials and during medical treatment.

Due to the progressive nature of Parkinson’s, early stem cell intervention may have significant cost-saving benefits in the later stages of the disease.

To discuss the issues raised in this article, contact the author.

Alzheimerdiseaseeconomic impactMichael J Fox Foundationparkinsonrolestem cell therapy
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  • Panagiotis Spyridis

    Here is the answer to 2 or 1 double Election.

  • Katherine Bhana

    In July last year, I started on PARKINSON DISEASE TREATMENT PROTOCOL from Natural Herbs Centre (ww w. naturalherbscentre. com). One month into the treatment, I made a significant recovery. After I completed the recommended treatment, almost all my symptoms were gone, great improvement with my movement and balance. Its been a year, life has been amazing