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More than $220 billion in savings predicted with Alzheimer's advances

February 12, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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The United States could save $220 billion within the first five years of a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease being introduced, as well as reduce the number of people affected by the disease by 2.5 million, according to a new report from the Alzheimer's Association.

The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease has a goal of finding a cure or treatment by 2025. If the federal government were to invest $2 billion per year, then it would recoup its investment within the first three years after a treatment became available, according to the association.

Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’ s Association, calls for “consistent and meaningful investments in research from the federal government,” adding: “Promising research is ready for the pipeline, and leading scientists believe the national goal is attainable if we accelerate federal funding.”

A treatment introduced in 2025 that delays the onset of Alzheimer’s would reduce the number of people in 2050 who have the disease by 42 percent, from 13.5 million to 7.8 million, according to the association.  Additional information relayed in “Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer’s Disease: How a Treatment by 2025 Saves Lives and Dollars,” [PDF]:

  • In 2015, the costs to all payers for the care of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will total about $226 billion, with Medicare and Medicaid paying 68 percent of the costs. Without a treatment, costs are projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050.
  • Reaching the 2025 goal would save payers $220 billion over five years and $367 billion in the year 2050 alone. Savings to Medicare and Medicaid would account for nearly 60 percent of the savings.
  • People living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and their families would save $54 billion over the first five years in their out-of-pocket costs if the 2025 goal is met.

The release of the report comes on the heels of the release of President Barack Obama’s proposed 2016 federal budget and another Alzheimer’s related advocacy group’s displeasure with the amount of money it contained to reach the national goal of conquering the disease by 2025.

George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, said that he was pleased with the budget’s 3.3 percent increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. He also said that the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, Initiative and the new Precision Medicine Initiative, with proposed funded of $135 million (up from $64 million this year) and $215 million, respectively, held promise for the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Nonetheless, he said the budget should have included more funding for dementia research. The proposed budget contains $638 million for Alzheimer’s disease research, a 9 percent increase over this year.

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