The costs of Alzheimer's disease and the value of effective therapies.Am J Manag Care 2011; 17 Suppl 13:S356-62AJ
Every 69 seconds, a person in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease (AD). By 2050, this rate is expected to double. Total direct costs of AD and dementia (AD/D) are estimated at $183 billion, and are expected to increase to $1.1 trillion by 2050. In 2010, unpaid care was valued at an estimated $202 billion. Caregivers of patients with AD are usually family members, and provide up to 70 hours of care per week. By delaying institutionalization of an AD patient, a savings of $2029 per month in direct healthcare costs could be realized; therefore, caregiver support is a significant factor in controlling costs. It is important for those with AD/D to have prescription plans that optimize access to AD/D therapies. Among older adults who previously did not have prescription coverage, 80% are now enrolled in Medicare Part D. Three preferred AD/D agents (donepezil, extended release galantamine hydrochloride, and memantine hydrochloride) have been identified by an expert panel. It is important, given the clinical course of AD, especially with progression to moderate-to-severe disease, that physicians continue to have access to preferred medications as demonstrated through evidence-based clinical evaluations. Many Medicare Part D beneficiaries are subject to a gap in prescription coverage known as the "donut hole," including 64% of patients with AD. Because of the increased out-of-pocket expenditures associated with this coverage gap, some patients stop taking their medication completely or reduce medication use. It is critical to avoid lapses in maintenance therapy, as functional and cognitive abilities cannot be regained. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the pharmacoeconomic benefits of appropriate and preferred AD therapies; greater therapeutic availability may lead to better adherence and therefore improved outcomes.