The national epidemic and potential world pandemic of Alzheimer’s Disease was the topic of a congressional hearing today before the House global health panel chaired by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), who also co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Over five million Americans suffer from the debilitating disease. Some experts estimate that Alzheimer’s costs Americans over $180 billion annually, which could rise to over $1 trillion a year by 2050. Next month at the G-8 Dementia Summit in the United Kingdom, health ministers from G-8 countries will discuss strategies to address the global challenge of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
“Currently, more than 35 million people worldwide live with some form of dementia,” Smith said. “By 2050, this population is projected to triple and affect more than 115 million people. As populations age across the globe, today's crisis may become tomorrow's catastrophe.” Click here to read Congressman Smith’s opening remarks or here to watch.
“The struggle to meet the challenge of HIV-AIDS has been tremendous, but it is one we have made great strides in addressing,” Smith said. “We must do no less in the struggle against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.”
Testifying at Smith’s hearing were: Matthew Baumgart, Senior Director of Public Policy, Alzheimer’s Association; Andrea Pfeifer, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, of Switzerland-based AC Immune, and; George Vradenburg, Chairman and Founder, USAgainstAlzheimer’s.
Baumgart drew attention to the bipartisan National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) (P.L. 111-375) –co-authored by Smith and former Rep. Ed-Markey of Mass—which passed Congress unanimously in 2010. The Act requires the creation of an annually-updated strategic National Alzheimer’s Plan to help those with the disease and their families today and to change the trajectory of the disease for the future,
“Because of the Plan, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) finally has created a blueprint for Alzheimer’s research that includes a timeline and milestones toward the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025,” Baumgart said.
“The health ministers from the G8 nations will meet the first ever global summit on dementia to help improve management of the disease and accelerate the development of new treatments under the leadership of the UK government,” Pfiffer said. “The high-level summit, which is to be held in London on December 11, will host discussion to shape an effective international solution to dementia, including looking for effective therapies and responses to slow dementia’s impact... . The G8 have a unique chance to help people manage dementia better, lead healthier lives and deliver real improvements in care and substantial economic savings.”
“I encourage this subcommittee to continue doing what you are doing in conducting invaluable oversight of U.S. and global efforts to address the Alzheimer’s crisis,” Vradenburg said. “I also urge you to consider opportunities to work with a growing body of parliamentarians in other nations–particularly the UK, the European Union, and Japan–who are also deeply interested in stopping Alzheimer’s and dementia and willing to engage in dialogue with fellow parliamentarians on this topic.”
Click here to watch the hearing or read the statements of the witnesses.