May 31, 2012

At last, a comprehensive plan to combat a devastating disease

We have a plan, folks. An aggressive, historic one. And it comes not a minute too soon. 

The National Alzheimer's Plan was revealed recently  by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleeen Sibelius. Mandated by the National Alzheimer's Project Act signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011, this historic plan has an ambitious goal: Find methods to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's Disease by 2025. The President's 2013 budget seeks an additional $80 million for drug research.

Two large clinical studies are underway at this moment. The first tests an anti-amyloid antibody to determine if it prevents the disease from developing in people who are at high genetic risk for Alzheimer's. A second study examines whether a nasal insulin spray can ease Alzheimer's symptoms. The regions of the brain that are critical in memory and cognition have abundant insulin receptors. Currently, only 5 drugs are FDA approved for Alzheimer's Disease: Cognex, Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne, and Namenda. However, they are not curative, nor do they provide symptomatic relief for more than a few months. 

Without effective drugs, the human and financial carnage of Alzheimer's Disease is predicted to rise exponentially. Experts believe that by 2050, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's Disease will easily double from its current level of 5 million individuals, with associated healthcare costs topping $1 trillion. Like I said, this plan comes not a moment too soon. 

The plan also calls for programs to increase awareness of the disease and provide support services. Toward that end, the federal government has created a new website to serve as one-stop resource for families:

Let's all hope the plan delivers the elusive cure by the target date - or better yet, much sooner. But until a cure is found, every Alzheimer's patient and his family must take the proper financial and legal precautions. Contact our Florida elder law attorneys to schedule your consultation. To read the detailed national plan, click here.

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