Objective: To review the economic cost of Alzheimer's disease, to determine the level of research expenditure directed at this illness and to make comparisons with cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Method: A literature search of cost-of-illness studies was conducted and major funders of research were contacted. Cost-of-illness estimates were updated and adjusted to enable comparability across the four disease areas.
Results: The direct costs of Alzheimer's disease were estimated to be between 7.06 billion pounds sterling and 14.93 billion pounds sterling , which was substantially greater than stroke (3.2 billion pounds sterling), heart disease (4.05 billion pounds sterling ) and cancer (1.6 billion pounds sterling excluding informal care costs). Research expenditure on Alzheimer's disease was 57% of that on stroke, 10% of that on heart disease and 3% of that on cancer.
Discussion: Alzheimer's disease imposes a high economic burden. However, spending on research is disproportionately low compared with spending on other major illnesses. In the light of these two findings we recommend further discussion of the distribution of public funding for research into this disease.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.