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Senate Approves Landmark Increase in Alzheimer's Research Funding

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerFebruary 3, 2016

Alzheimer’s is one of the most deadly diseases in the United States that receives limited funding to put towards research efforts. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently passed a 60% increase in Alzheimer’s research funding, that, if passed into law, would be the largest increase in funding for the disease ever.

National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s

It’s no secret that Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases in the U.S. and that research efforts remain grossly underfunded. The cost of care for Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. is estimated to reach $226 billion this year, with the global cost of care estimated to be close to $605 billion, equivalent to 1% of the entire world’s gross domestic product. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to pay $154 billion this year for dementia care.

Alzheimer’s disease remains the only leading cause of death in the U.S. without any cure or way to prevent or slow its progression. Yet, Alzheimer’s receives only $586 million for research.

Experts estimate that nearly $2 billion annually is necessary to find a prevention or treatment by 2025, the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s

Closing the Gap in Alzheimer’s Funding

In an effort to close the funding gap and fulfill the goals and objectives of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a historic 60% increase for Alzheimer’s disease research funding, adding nearly $350 million to the cause. If the increase is passed into law, it will be the largest increase in Alzheimer’s research funding ever.

Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraged by the potential increase in funding saying:

“With this bipartisan call for a 60% increase in Alzheimer’s disease funding, Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Subcommittee Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray are making history. More importantly, they are demonstrating to the millions of Americans affected by this devastating and fatal disease that they will not suffer indefinitely.”

He continues:

“As we look forward to the announcement of the first Alzheimer’s professional judgment budget next month, the momentum behind the fight to end Alzheimer’s has never been greater.”

Proposed Budget Includes an Increase for Alzheimer’s Research in 2016

Congress recently reached a spending deal which included a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s research in the fiscal year of 2016. The deal still needs to be approved by the White House, but if it is, it will increase government spending on the epidemic by more than 50%.

Director of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging and the Mayo Alzheimer’s Research Center Ronald Petersen is optimistic about the development, stating, “It’s perhaps some of the most encouraging news we’ve had on Alzheimer’s disease in several years. This is truly very, very exciting in the field.” He went on to note that if funding is increased by $350 million every year, the $2 billion goal would be reached by 2020.

Rob Egge, chief policy officer at the Alzheimer’s Association is equally encouraged noting the importance of such an increase for Alzheimer’s research saying:

“There have been outstanding scientific proposals, and they have been sitting on the sidelines, with scientists waiting to go, for lack of funding. These are going to be able to be dusted off and acted on.”

The National Institute of Health will not comment on the budget until it is finalized.

What do you think about this landmark increase in Alzheimer’s research funding? Are we doing enough to hit our national goal of effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer’s by 2025? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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