The burden of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: an international, cross-sectional study

Neurology. 2014 Aug 5;83(6):529-36. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000669. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate the total cost of illness and economic burden of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Methods: Patients with DMD from Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and United States were identified through Translational Research in Europe-Assessment & Treatment of Neuromuscular Diseases registries and invited to complete a questionnaire online together with a caregiver. Data on health care use, quality of life, work status, informal care, and household expenses were collected to estimate costs of DMD from the perspective of society and caregiver households.

Results: A total of 770 patients (173 German, 122 Italian, 191 from the United Kingdom, and 284 from the United States) completed the questionnaire. Mean per-patient annual direct cost of illness was estimated at between $23,920 and $54,270 (2012 international dollars), 7 to 16 times higher than the mean per-capita health expenditure in these countries. Indirect and informal care costs were substantial, each constituting between 18% and 43% of total costs. The total societal burden was estimated at between $80,120 and $120,910 per patient and annum, and increased markedly with disease progression. The corresponding household burden was estimated at between $58,440 and $71,900.

Conclusions: We show that DMD is associated with a substantial economic burden. Our results underscore the many different costs accompanying a rare condition such as DMD and the considerable economic burden carried by affected families. Our description of the previously unknown economic context of a rare disease serves as important intelligence input to health policy evaluations of intervention programs and novel therapies, financial support schemes for patients and their families, and the design of future cost studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / diagnosis*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / economics*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology