Without Effective Drugs, Costs Of Alzheimer’s Soaring

Without Effective Drugs, Costs Of Alzheimer’s SoaringA report issued by the Alzheimer’s Association Wednesday, called on Congress to increase drug research funding, as the next 40 years will see Alzheimer’s disease racking up over $20 trillion in treatment costs.

According to it the cost of caring for Americans aged 65 and older suffering from Alzheimer’s disease from 2010 to 2050, will witness a six-fold increase to $1.08 trillion per year.

The most common form of dementia, currently, the government, private insurance and individuals spend $172 billion a year in caring for people with the disease.

The drugs that are currently available, while helping manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, are unable to stop the progression of the disease, which begins with vague memory loss and confusion, eventually progressing to complete disability and death.

The Alzheimer’s Association, basing its estimates on a model developed by the Lewin Group, a healthcare research organization, the insurer UnitedHealth Group owns, informs the number of Alzheimer patients 65 plus in America, will increase from 5.1 million today to 13.5 million by mid-century.

Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association said the disease was not just about memory loss, but worsening day by day was on its way to becoming a full fledged national crisis.

Alzheimer’s, not only threatened millions of families, it also drove tremendous costs for government programmes like Medicare and Medicaid, with costs to the federal health insurance programme for the elderly rising 600% from $88 billion today to $627 billion in 2050. While, during the same time period, Medicaid costs would 400% from $34 billion to $178 billion.

The cost increases are driven by the fact that by 2050, 48% of the projected 13.5 million people with Alzheimer’s will be in an advanced and severe stage of the disease, requiring costly, around-the-clock care.

With no treatments to prevent, delay, slow down or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, the ultimate goal is to find complete prevention or cure for Alzheimer’s. Discovering a drug that delays on the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, would help bring down the total number of Americans aged 65 plus with the condition from 5.6 million to 4 million in 2020.

Despite, the magnitude and the impact of this disease, the government’s response to this burgeoning crisis has been surprisingly neglectful.