As of October, 2013, a decade has now passed since the fourth and most recent standard drug for Alzheimer's was approved, and none of the four slows disease progression.
Setting aside for a moment the enormous emotional toll of Alzheimer's, the economics are potentially devastating to most countries where lifespan exceeds 80 years.
Medicare spends $13,207 per year to care for a patient with Alzheimer's, and $4,454 per year to care for a similar patient who is not affected by the disease.
If, by 2015, the onset of Alzheimer's were delayed by 5 years, this delay in disease onset would lead to a savings of $111 billion over 10 years. Without such a delay, Medicare spending for Alzheimer's will soar to over $1 trillion by 2050.
To lure companies and scientists back to Alzheimer's disease drug discovery research, we must rethink our regulatory protection policies.
Thirty years ago, the Orphan Drug Act offered 12 years of market protection for the development of drugs that treat diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 Americans. The result was a 40-fold increase in FDA-approved orphan drugs.
Read this interesting article by Sam Gandy
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