Alzheimer's disease can affect anyone. It is one of the most devastating diseases anyone can face. Individuals with Alzheimer's have lost their memories, independence, relationships, and ultimately their lives. Family and caregivers are often pushed to their limits as they care for loved ones.
Alzheimer's disease is a major public health concern; the disease exacts a significant toll on families and caregivers and continues to strain the health and long-term care delivery systems in the United States. Absent a cure or treatment options, the annual costs are rising.
Together, we must work to encourage the development of new diagnostics and treatments for this devastating disease. As patients, providers, industry, and caregivers, we must work with policymakers to bring hope to millions of Americans struggling with Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is an irreversible and progressive brain disease that today affects more than 5.2 million Americans. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure, or even slow its progression.
Furthermore, Alzheimer's disease exacts a significant toll on families and caregivers. In 2011, 15.2 million family and friends provided 17.4 billion hours of uncompensated care to patients living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias-that care valued at $210.5 billion.
Today, 1 out of every 9 older Americans is living with Alzheimer's disease and caring for these patients costs roughly $200 billion each year. More than two-thirds of the total is paid out of our already financially-stretched Medicare and Medicaid systems. Absent a cure or treatment options, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's is projected to grow from 5.4 million today to > 16 million in 2050. The annual cost of caring for these individuals is estimated to increase from $200 billion today to $1.1 trillion in 2050.
Unfortunately, scientists have not yet found a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Researchers around the world continue to explore the most effective methods to diagnose and treat individuals with Alzheimer's. We hope their hard work will one day find a cure, which will bring hope to millions of patients, families, and caregivers.
The Campaign for Modern Medicines champions public policies to ensure that all individuals with Alzheimer's have access to the safe, effective, and breakthrough medicines of today and tomorrow. We recognize that it is of critical importance to develop and provide access to new technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Until a treatment for Alzheimer's disease is discovered, approved by regulators, and accessible to patients, we will work with our partners to meet our goals in four health policy areas:
- Future Medicines: Creating breakthrough medicines doesn't happen in a vacuum and the effort to create new medicines that will play a vital role in successfully preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's disease is no different. That's why we support strong intellectual property protections, like those in the MODDERN Cures Act, that reward the investment required for developing treatments for unmet medical needs. We want policy makers to recognize value and reward Alzheimer's innovation in therapeutic and diagnostic treatment.
- Access to Medicines: For patients living with Alzheimer's disease, access to the appropriate diagnostic tools and treatments for all forms of health care coverage is paramount. Furthermore, patients need relevant laws and regulations regarding health delivery systems to address the challenges that Alzheimer's disease creates for patients, families, and caregivers. We support unrestricted access and reimbursement for diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's.
- Safe and Effective Medicines: For patients living with Alzheimer's, it is important that we have a 21st century regulatory system that fosters innovation for Alzheimer's disease and will reduce the challenges along the path from basic research to new drug treatments. An improved regulatory environment can help address the challenges associated with the high cost and difficulty of clinical trial patient recruitment and the time, cost, and uncertainty of the drug approval process.
- Improving Public Health: For patients with Alzheimer's and their family and caregivers, health care challenges continue to escalate. This is why we must cultivate public awareness and engagement around the disease. Together, we champion public policy initiatives like the U.S. National Alzheimer's Plan, as well as individual state plans to address the challenges in diagnosis and treatments. When implemented, these plans will provide patient access to appropriate treatments and support.
With a united voice, we can change the course of the disease and ultimately bring hope to millions of Americans with Alzheimer's disease.
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