America’s biopharmaceutical research companies currently are developing 37 innovative new medicines to help the estimated 10 million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s disease. These medicines in development, all either in clinical trials or under review by the FDA, include 23 for Parkinson’s disease, 11 for related conditions and three diagnostics, according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Parkinson's disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder in the U.S. It is unknown exactly how many Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease, but estimates range up to 1.5 million. Each year, approximately 60,000 additional patients are newly diagnosed, and this does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. Without any change, by 2040 the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease is expected to more than double.
“Biopharmaceutical scientists are applying the latest knowledge and technologies to help solve the puzzle of Parkinson’s,” said John J. Castellani, PhRMA president and CEO. “The nearly 40 medicines in development today offer great hope that together we can ease the tremendous burden of Parkinson’s on patients, public health and economies around the world.”
The range of novel approaches being pursed to tackle this challenging neurological disease includes a gene therapy that targets the part of the brain that controls movement; a new medicine that targets a receptor found in the brain where degeneration and abnormality often are seen in Parkinson’s disease; and new delivery mechanisms of currently approved treatments, including an intranasal formulation and an intestinal gel.
Parkinson’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Parkinson’s is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking or completing other simple tasks. No one can predict which symptoms will affect an individual patient, and the intensity of the symptoms also varies from person to person.
In addition to the human toll associated with the disease, the economic consequences of Parkinson’s are significant to the U.S. The economic burden of Parkinson’s disease is at least $14.4 billion a year in the U.S., with $8.1 billion in medical expenses and $6.3 billion in indirect costs attributed to the disease. Those with Parkinson's incurred disease-related medical expenses of $22,800 per patient—$12,800 higher than someone without Parkinson's. If Parkinson's progression were slowed by 50%, there would be a 35% reduction in excess costs, representing a dramatic reduction in cost of care spread over a longer expected survival according to a Movement Disorders study.
“The economic burden of Parkinson’s disease and the need for services and support are increasing exponentially due to the world’s aging population,” said Castellani. “More collaboration throughout the biomedical ecosystem will help better meet the needs of people living with Parkinson's, and allow us to continue to make strides against this global public health challenge.”