Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a subtype of dementia and is an irreversible, neurodegenerative brain disease of the elderly, characterized by the death of brain cells, which leads to a progressive decline in memory and cognitive abilities. AD is the most common cause of dementia in people age 60 years and older, and accounts for approximately 75% of the total dementia cases worldwide.
Due to the progressive nature of AD, common conditions in the elderly, such as depression and diabetes, are considered both risk factors and comorbidities for the disease. The AD market is unique in its level of unmet clinical and environmental need, as there are no curative therapies. This means a lack of efficient treatment to effectively prevent the disease from progressing to the more severe forms. As the world’s population is rapidly aging, AD will clearly pose a major health problem in the near future.
The world’s aging population is expected to increase the prevalent cases of AD. GlobalData epidemiologists analyzed the epidemiological trends of AD in the seven major markets (7MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and Japan) and determined that the total prevalent cases of AD are expected to increase from 10,604,756 cases in 2016 to 13,759,918 cases in 2026, at an annual growth rate (AGR) of 2.98% between 2016 and 2026.
Figure 1 presents the total prevalent cases of AD in the 7MM in 2016 and 2026.
The symptoms of AD develop gradually over a period of time, although the rate of disease progression varies per individual. The symptoms can range from being asymptomatic during early stages of the disease, to total dependence in severe forms. The disease can severely reduce patient quality of life.
The main symptom of AD is dementia, and, although it is present in all cases of the disease, it is not specific to AD. AD is the most common cause of dementia in people aged 65 years and older; however, a small proportion of patients develop AD in their forties or fifties, termed early-onset AD. AD is an escalating international health crisis and a looming global epidemic, as the world’s population is rapidly aging.
It is the most common cause of dementia among the elderly, and is one of the major contributing factors to making the elderly more dependent on others. Age-associated illnesses, particularly AD, are projected to have profound consequences for older adults, caregivers, the healthcare delivery system, and society in the near future.
GlobalData (2017). EpiCast Report: Alzheimer’s Disease – Epidemiology Forecast to 2026, October 2017. GDHCER162-17.
GlobalData (2017). EpiCast Model: Alzheimer’s Disease – Epidemiology Forecast to 2026, October 2017, GDHCEM162-17