Alzheimer’s Disease falls just below heart disease and cancer as a cause of death in America, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s more dangerous than Influenza, Pneumonia, Nephritis, and kills nearly twice as many people each year as suicide. It has a place on the top 10 causes of death, yet it is the only disease on the list that we cannot prevent, cure, or slow.
Hillary Clinton proposes spending $2 billion a year chasing a cure for this devastating disease. She said,
“We owe it to the millions of families who stay up at night worrying about their loved ones afflicted by this terrible disease and facing the hard reality of the long goodbye to make research investments that will prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible.”
In a bold move to make this disease a campaign issue, Mrs. Clinton made her formal announcement that she wants to bring Alzheimer’s research to the forefront during a campaign speech last December in Fairfield, Iowa.
The state of Alzheimer’s Disease in America
Scientists have their work cut out for them. Alzheimer’s Disease deaths increased 71% between 2000 and 2013, but deaths from heart disease dropped 14%. Rudolph Tanzi, an Alzheimer’s Disease researcher and pioneer who oversees the research center at Massachusetts General Hospital, is alarmed by the numbers. He says that without proper research funding to find a cure, the disease will easiy topple Medicare and Medicaid. Without an infusion of support, and advances toward finding a cure, Medicare costs will quadruple by 2050 and account for one-third of all expenditures.
Congress approved a 50% increase in research funding late in 2015, bringing the total for 2016 up to $936 million. A 2-billion-dollar budget would bring Alzheimer’s up to the levels of other research funding for heart disease and HIV. Right now, 18% of all Medicare dollars are spent on caring for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease largely affects women
Almost 2/3 of people living with this disease who are over 65 years old are women. The great majority of their primary caregivers are also women. 40% of them have a total household income of less than $50,000. Women are getting the disease more than men, and women are caring for people suffering from the disease.
The FDA has not granted approval to any new Alzheimer’s Disease drugs in more than ten years. If Mrs. Clinton is elected and raises the research budget to the level she’s promised, scientists may find a cure. At that point, the investment would be returned in Medicare and Medicaid savings in less than three years. The disease currently costs the United States about $226 million each year.
For more information on the latest developments in Alzheimer’s Disease research, visit The Alzheimer’s Foundation online, The National Institute on Aging, and The Alzheimer’s and Brain Research Center.