WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Trump, calling for greater investment in Alzheimer’s research. Alzheimer’s research funding remains disproportionately low compared to its human and economic toll. Experts have stated $2 billion per year in federal funding is required to meet the goal of preventing or effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. In a letter to the president, Klobuchar, Collins, and a bipartisan group of senators urged increased investment in Alzheimer’s research in the fiscal year 2018 budget request and support for efforts to meet the research investment objective set forth in the National Plan.
“If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, the number of Americans afflicted with the disease is expected to more than triple by 2050,” the senators wrote. “Already our nation’s costliest disease, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost our country more than $1 trillion by 2050.”
The letter was also signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ed Markey (D-MA), John Boozman (R-AR), Mark Warner (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
Since arriving in the Senate in 2015, Senator Tillis has been a champion for increasing funding for Alzheimer’s research. Tillis was a strong supporter of the 21st Century Cures Act, bipartisan legislation that increases funding for Alzheimer’s and cancer research. Tillis, who was a caregiver for a close relative who had Alzheimer’s, has also been outspoken in calling for the need to provide family caregiver with greater support and resources. He has urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to evaluate the cost-saving opportunities associated with providing targeted Alzheimer’s disease support services to caregivers, particularly when it comes to delaying or reducing their use of institutional long-term care and other health-care services.
The full text of the senators’ letter is below:
Dear Mr. President:
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that exacts a tremendous personal and economic toll on the individual, the family, and our society. In addition to the human suffering it causes, Alzheimer’s is our nation’s most expensive disease, costing the United States more than $236 billion a year, including $160 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. These costs will skyrocket as the baby boom generation ages.
Alzheimer’s is also one of our nation’s leading causes of death, with recent data revealing that each year more than 500,000 deaths are attributable to Alzheimer’s and other dementias – six times the amount previously estimated. Moreover, Alzheimer’s is the only one of our nation’s deadliest diseases without an effective means of prevention, treatment, or cure.
If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, the number of Americans afflicted with the disease is expected to more than triple by 2050. Already our nation’s costliest disease, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost our country more than $1 trillion by 2050.
At a time when the United States is spending more than $200 billion a year to care for Alzheimer’s patients, we are spending just four percent of that amount on research. Although the Administration and Congress have made some progress in increasing funding, Alzheimer’s research funding remains disproportionately low compared to its human and economic toll. Indeed, similarly deadly diseases receive annual funding of $2 billion, $3 billion, and even $5.6 billion for research, which has paid dividends. Given the tremendous human and economic price of this devastating disease, we can do more for Alzheimer’s.
Investments in research for other diseases have yielded tremendous results: patients have access to new treatments, and death rates for some diseases are decreasing. Yet, at the same time, mortality due to Alzheimer’s is escalating dramatically. Fortunately, there is promising research that holds hope for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The research community is poised to make important advances through clinical trials and investigating new therapeutic targets, but adequate funding is critical to advance this research.
The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which was authorized by the bipartisan 2010 National Alzheimer’s Project Act, has as its primary goal to “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.” To meet that goal, the Chairman of the Advisory Council created by the legislation says that we will need to devote $2 billion a year to Alzheimer’s research. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 took a major step forward by providing a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research funding, the largest increase for Alzheimer’s research funding in history. Congress has recently taken additional steps to fight Alzheimer's with the enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides additional funding for the BRAIN Initiative and creates the breakthrough EUREKA prize competition to address pressing diseases, including Alzheimer's. These are critical achievements, but we need to do more.
Increasing federal funding for Alzheimer’s research would be a wise investment. We, therefore, urge you to boost our current investment in Alzheimer’s research in your fiscal year 2018 budget request and support efforts to meet the research investment objective set forth in the National Plan.
We remain committed to finding a way to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025, and we look forward to working with you to meet that goal.