Monday, June 20, 2011

Alzheimer's in America

Neurological disorders are straining America. These illnesses can deprive us of our happiness, alter our personality, and cause untoward suffering for our loved ones.

In addition, society bears a massive cost burden for neurological disorders, estimated to be $350 billion per year including direct and indirect costs. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, has an annual cost of $183 billion in the US alone.

The NIH spends about $450 million per year on Alzheimer’s research, which may sound significant, but it is equal to only one quarter of one percent of the $183 billion that Alzheimer’s costs Americans. Given the current fiscal environment, it will be an uphill battle to secure new funding for Alzheimer’s research, even though estimates show that 14 million baby boomers will be living with the disease by 2050.

Patients with Alzheimer’s rely heavily on Medicare to cover their medical bills. The average cost of an Alzheimer’s patient to Medicare is $13,000 per year, which is $8,500 more than the average cost of Medicare recipients without the disease.

As a nation, if we want to reign in the deficit we must control the cost of health care. Bringing new treatments to market could help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and one day, eradicate the disease all together. In doing so, we could save billions in care costs.

But in order to take advantage of today’s scientific opportunities, we must resist the urge to cut spending on research. Cuts will set all of us back and deprive a generation of the hope that robust medical research represents. Make sure Congress knows where you stand and convince others that share your views to reach out. We are, after all, in this together.

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