An important victory for Alzheimer’s disease patients advocates occurred last month when the U.S. Congress approved legislation that can significantly increase the federal budget allotted for research and development on newer and better approaches to prevent and treat this common form of dementia.
Larisa Kofman, the public policy director for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Oregon Chapter in Portland, said “We’ve definitely made some strides.”
According to the National Institutes of Health website, about $566 million was spent on research projects that involved Alzheimer’s disease during the last fiscal year. Kofman said, while the funds invested in research on Alzheimer’s disease may appear to be a significant amount of federal money, when compared to the funds invested in projects for cancer ($5.4 billion), HIV/AIDS ($2.9 billion), and cardiovascular diseases, it is clear the amount allotted is notably smaller. Furthermore, the money spent on Alzheimer’s research is nothing compared to the $214 billion spent by the country on healthcare for those suffering from dementia. Unfortunately, this value is only expected to increase considerably over the next years.
The association made crucial progress when the Congress included a $100 million increase for Alzheimer’s research at the NIH as part of the 2014 omnibus spending bill. A $25 million increase in funding followed a year later, when the Congress passed the 2015 omnibus spending bill.
A panel of scientists, instead of policy-makers, will determine how much money the NIH will spend on Alzheimer’s research for the next decade. Kofman adds, “(The bill) allows the NIH to submit a professional judgment budget for Alzheimer’s research every year until 2025.” This should usher in an opportunity for a common opinion saying, the NIH should spend a minimum of $2 billion a year on Alzheimer’s research, so the national goal of treating and preventing the disease by 2025 can be reached. “The commitment to (increasing the research budget) was well worth it,” said Kofman, despite the uncertainties regarding the exact amount of money available for Alzheimer’s research during the following year.
Notes About Alzheimer’s
About 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and it is estimated that for every 67 seconds that pass, someone in the U.S. develops the condition. Alzheimer’s is ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the country, and causes about 500,000 deaths each year.