Estimating the prevalence of Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC) in the United States

Barbara K. Burton, Alexandra G. Ellis, Blair Orr, Shilpa Chatlani, Kwangchae Yoon, Jessica R. Shoaff, Dan Gallo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Niemann-Pick Disease Type C (NPC) is an ultra-rare progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by autosomal recessive mutations in the NPC1 or NPC2 genes that lead to premature death, with most individuals dying between 10 and 25 years of age. NPC can present at any age and many individuals with NPC may be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. A key challenge with recognizing NPC is the heterogeneous and nonspecific clinical presentation. Currently, there are no approved treatments for NPC in the United States; miglustat, an FDA-approved treatment for Gaucher disease, is used off-label for NPC and GM1 gangliosidosis. Objectives: To estimate the number of people in the United States that 1) have an NPC diagnosis 2) have an NPC diagnosis and/or are treated off-label with miglustat for NPC and 3) are likely to have NPC. Methods: For the first two objectives, patients were identified using the Symphony Integrated DataVerse database (Oct 2015-Jan 2020). To identify the number of people with NPC for Objective 1, cases of NPC were defined as any patients with an ICD-10 code of E75.242 (NPC) during the study period. Objective 2 expands upon Objective 1, including (a) patients from Objective 1 and (b) patients with documented miglustat use (NDC 43975–0310 or 10,148–0201) who did not have any claim with Gaucher disease (ICD-10 E75.22) or GM1 gangliosidosis (ICD-10 E75.1) during the study period. For the third objective, published NPC incidence (1 per 89,000 live births) and expected mortality estimates were applied to the 2018 United States birth rate (11.6 per 1000) and population size (326.7 million). Results: A total of 308 million unique individuals were represented in the database. Of these, 294 individuals had an NPC diagnosis, yielding an identified NPC prevalence of 0.95 per million people in the United States. 305 individuals were diagnosed with NPC and/or were treated with miglustat without having a diagnosis for either Gaucher or GM1 gangliosidosis, yielding an NPC diagnosed or treated prevalence of 0.99 per million people in the United States. Based on the published literature, there are an estimated 42 new NPC cases per year. Applying this number to the distribution of NPC type (based on age of neurologic symptom onset) and corresponding mortality estimates generates an estimated 943 prevalent cases of NPC, or 2.9 cases of NPC per million people in the United States. Conclusions: NPC is an ultra-rare, progressive neurodegenerative disease with approximately 1 per million people in the United States diagnosed with or treated off-label for NPC. Given that NPC is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, the estimated prevalence from the epidemiology calculations (2.9 per million) approximates the number of NPC cases if disease awareness, screening and diagnosis efforts were enhanced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-187
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Epidemiology
  • Lysosomal storage disease
  • NPC
  • Niemann-Pick disease type C
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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