The Economic Impact of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Alzheimer's Disease: Can Drugs Ease the Burden?
Daniel L. Murman
Christopher C. Colenda
The majority of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) will have clinically significant neuropsychiatric symptoms during the course of their disease. There is growing evidence that neuropsychiatric symptoms increase direct costs of care in patients with AD, especially the costs associated with formal long-term care and unpaid caregiving. For example, we have estimated that a 1-point worsening of the neuropsychiatric inventory score is associated with an incremental increase of between $US247 and $US409 per year in total direct costs of care based upon year 2001 US dollars, depending on the value of unpaid caregiving. Although data are still limited, there have been a series of well designed, controlled clinical trials that have established the efficacy of several drugs used in the treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with AD. The economic impact of using efficacious drugs to treat neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with AD has not been evaluated formally. To successfully complete formal economic evaluations of these drugs there is a need for more research to refine methods for determining the economic value of unpaid caregiving and to collect more data concerning the incremental effects of neuropsychiatric symptoms on QOL, costs of care and survival. The current ongoing treatment trials that are collecting economic and QOL data as a part of the trial will be able to perform cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses of these new efficacious drugs. These economic evaluations will provide important information for decision makers who are formulating healthcare policy for the treatment of patients with AD.
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