The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to better coordinate federal efforts to treat, prevent and ultimately develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
The bipartisan National Alzheimer's Project Act, introduced by Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), will establish an inter-agency Advisory Council within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national plan for combating Alzheimer's disease.
As part of the National Alzheimer's Project, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will evaluate the efforts of every federal agency currently working on Alzheimer's and related dementias. For the first time, and at no additional cost to taxpayers, this bill gives federal agencies the information necessary to evaluate progress in the fight against the disease.
"The threat that Alzheimer's disease poses to the health and well being of our fellow citizens demands an aggressive and well-coordinated response," Bayh said. "Our bill creates the first-ever national plan to combat Alzheimer's and ensures that every dollar spent on the disease will be used to get the best possible outcomes for patients. At a time when medical research funds are too scarce, the National Alzheimer's Project will support the kind of research that will, hopefully, one day result in a cure for this devastating disease."
"Today, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, more than double the number in 1980," Collins said. "If nothing is done to change the current trajectory of the disease, 13.5 million Americans over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer's disease by 2050. Moreover, if nothing is done to slow or stop the disease, Alzheimer's will cost the United States $20 trillion over the next 40 years. Despite these alarming projections, to date there is no national strategy to defeat Alzheimer's. The National Alzheimer's Project Act will create a coordinated strategic national plan to focus our efforts and ensure that our resources are maximized and leveraged to find better treatments, a means of prevention, and ultimately a cure for Alzheimer's disease."
More than five million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, a progressive, disabling and terminal disease of the mind and body. By 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer's.
In addition to the disease's human toll, Alzheimer's is a major factor in rising health care costs. Patients with Alzheimer's often require around-the-clock care. By 2050, taxpayers will spend more than $800 billion a year on Alzheimer's - more than the entire U.S. defense budget.