US Health Authorities have set 2025 as the deadline for coming up with an effective Alzheimer's disease treatment. Some would say this is over-ambitious, because there is no current cure for the disease; and none in the pipeline either. The Alzheimer's Association informs that during the second meeting of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care and Services, ". . . in-depth discussions took place about goals and strategies to change the trajectory of Alzheimer's disease."
Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association and member of the Advisory Council, said:
"Alzheimer's can't wait and families won't forget. For the first time ever, families grappling with this progressive, degenerative and ultimately fatal disease can have real hope that a national strategy addressing the escalating Alzheimer's crisis is coming."
The Alzheimer's Association says that approximately 5.4 million people in the USA live with Alzheimer's, while a further 15 million family members and friends provide round-the-clock care. This year, the Alzheimer's disease economic toll will reach about $183 billion in the USA, and is expected to exceed $1 trillion by the middle of this century.
Of the ten leading causes of death today, Alzheimer's is the only one with no treatment to prevent or cure it, or even slow down its progression.
According to Alzheimer's Disease International, there are about 37 million people globally living with Alzheimer's - numbers are expected to rise to 66 million in 2030 and 115 million in 2050.
The national Alzheimer's plan is a result of the new law signed in by President Obama - The National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA). The law authorized the current process to devise a national plan for the disease. The (Alzheimer's) Advisory Council was also created as a result of the new law - it consists of stakeholders from the whole spectrum of the Alzheimer's community, as well as representatives from several relevant federal agencies. The Council has been told to provide the HHS Secretary with recommendations for a national plan.
"This process is about changing the course of Alzheimer's disease. It is about setting the path for that change right away with an aggressive timeline. Developing an urgent, achievable and accountable strategy for Alzheimer's is about hope for millions of people today and tomorrow. What we need now is a meaningful plan with appropriate resources that, when fully implemented, will bring us from possibility to reality."
Among its several recommendations, the Advisory Council says an extra $2 billion should be spent annually on Alzheimer's research. A Council Subcommittee is looking into electing a person who is responsible and accountable for putting the National Plan into action.
Several countries, such as South Korea, France and Australia, have thorough Alzheimer's plans already in place. Experts have been commenting for a while now that the USA needs one too.
Dr. Howard Koh, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, said in an interview with Reuters:
"We want to demonstrate that as a country we are committed to addressing this issue.
We know the projected number of patients is expected to rise in the future. We know there are far too many patients who are suffering from this devastating condition and it is affecting them and their caregivers."
Several experts comment that similar drives on cancer and HIV/AIDS have no deadlines. They add that perhaps the focus should simply be on continuing the fight and making progress. There is concern that by placing a deadline, the whole project is setting itself up for failure if no cure is found for Alzheimer's by 2025.
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton set a goal for eliminating the disease last year, thirty years into the fight against AIDS. AIDS has received enormous amounts of funding, Alzheimer's, in contrast, has not.
Many experts say that without public funding, most pharmaceutical companies will not pursue medical breakthroughs in Alzheimer's. Earlier this week Pfizer Inc and Medivation Inc announced the end of their collaboration with Dimbebon, an experimental drug that many had hoped might improve cognitive ability in late-state Alzheimer's - the drug failed to improve signs and symptoms.
Written by Christian Nordqvist