Alzheimer's research funding may get a boost

For every dollar spent on care, less than a penny is spent looking for new treatments. Legislation proposes U.S. bonds to finance new studies.

By Chris Silva — Posted Oct. 12, 2010

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Hoping to increase funding for Alzheimer's disease research, Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R, Texas) introduced legislation that would establish U.S. Treasury bonds to raise money to search for treatments.

Alzheimer's is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., afflicting 5.3 million Americans. That number is expected to increase by more than 50% during the next 20 years, according to a report from the Alzheimer's Study Group, established in 2007 by a Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease.

The Making Investments Now for Dementia Act would establish U.S. Alzheimer's bonds. Proceeds would go toward Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health.

The bill, which was introduced Sept. 22, also would ensure that the bonds would provide new money for research, rather than supplementing current funding.

"Alzheimer's disease is one of the most burdensome diseases facing Americans today, taking an immense emotional, physical and financial toll on those affected," Dr. Burgess said. "There is no cure, yet research funding is not equivalent to other comparable illnesses. It is important that additional avenues of funding are designated, and the MIND Act will help bring research funds for Alzheimer's up to par, so we can work to find a cure to this devastating disease."

Alzheimer's costs the U.S. about $172 billion annually. For every dollar spent on Alzheimer's care, less than a penny is invested in finding a cure, according to the Alzheimer's Study Group (link).

The MIND Act has gained the support of several individuals and groups, including Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House; Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; the American Academy of Neurology; the Alzheimer's Foundation of America; and the Alzheimer's Assn.

"Neurologists are on the front lines in providing care for the more than 5 million Americans living with the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease and providing counsel to their families and caregivers," said Robert C. Griggs, MD, president of the American Academy of Neurology, which has more than 22,000 members. "It is essential that Congress think in innovative ways, as suggested in the MIND Act, to encourage research into the prevention, treatment and cures of neurologic disorders like Alzheimer's disease."

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