Designated in 1983 by then-President Ronald Reagan, November marks National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month – a month for all Americans to come together to raise awareness and understanding of this disease that affects more than 5 million people in the United States. It is also a chance to celebrate all of the progress in Alzheimer’s research and the development of treatments for this devastating disease.
All diseases are complex in their own way, but Alzheimer’s disease is proving to be especially challenging to treat and cure, as the underlying causes of the disease are multifaceted and elusive. In fact, a recent analysis found that from 1998 to 2014, only four medicines were approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease, while 123 treatments in development never made it past clinical studies.
Despite these setbacks, biopharmaceutical researchers continue their
pursuit of new medicines, learning from each setback. And many have devoted their lives to searching for a way to defeat this disease, which currently is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
As highlighted in a recent PhRMA report, the biopharmaceutical industry has made great strides and is studying more than 70 potential new treatments in clinical trials today. Much of this research is focusing on treatments that may be able to stop or slow the disease, rather than treating the symptoms of the disease.
While there is more work to be done, there continues to be increased hope for the millions of Americans impacted by this disease.
Innovation in Alzheimer’s treatment offers tremendous hope for patients and their families, but also has the potential to create efficiencies in the health care system. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease costs the U.S. health care system more than $200 billion a year. However, the Alzheimer’s Association has estimated that if we develop a new medicine that delays the onset of Alzheimer’s by just five years, the U.S. health care system could avoid $367 billion in costs by 2050.
So this November, let’s raise awareness and understanding, and let’s recognize the progress to date and the hope of future progress to change the face of Alzheimer’s disease.
Learn more about the medicines in development for Alzheimer’s disease here.
Nicole Longo Nicole is director of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on Medicare, 340B, importation and more. She previously worked for a D.C.-based public affairs firm where she assisted a wide range of clients with communications efforts on everything from trade policy to agriculture policy to health care policy. Outside the office, Nicole can be found trying new restaurants (usually Italian), taking an occasional barre class and cheering on the Cincinnati Bengals.