Today's Top Alzheimer's News
An April 16, 2015 Washington Post article reported on the growing awareness of Alzheimer’s in the media and featured mentions of USAgainstAlzheimer’s George Vradenburg and Meryl Comer. According to Vradenburg, “It is definitely bleeding much more significantly into the media…It used to be the case that you hid out, you wanted to sort of stay private, you didn’t want to talk about your disease. But now more and more people are willing to talk about their disease. And more and more people are telling stories of others, fictional and real, of people experiencing this disease. So we’re beginning to see a crack in the stigma as people begin to talk about this disease.”
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An April 17, 2015 The Guardian opinion piece by David Shariatmadari warned against overhyping cutting-edge research for diseases like Alzheimer’s. According to Shariatmadri, ““Breakthrough”, “new hope”, “disease could be prevented by immune system tweak”. Newspapers this week trumpeted the latest research into Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have found a drug that prevents the illness, and slows its course in those already suffering. The caveat, however, is that these Alzheimer’s patients are mice. We are a long, long way from discovering if what’s good for rodents is good for us. But it’s hard to suppress a quickening of the pulse, particularly if, like me, you’ve lost close relatives to the disease. I remember the excitement over Aricept, a drug thought to delay progression, in the 90s. The Alzheimer’s Society now says that it can improve symptoms for six to 12 months in 40% to 70% of patients. Hardly a magic bullet.”
An April 16, 2015 Huffington Post blog by Paul Irving underscored the need to embrace the nation’s aging trend. According to the article, “Predictions that aging societies inevitably lead to catastrophic outcomes of dependency and decline are yesterday's stories. Today's reality holds far more promise than these tired prognostications indicate. While aging certainly brings its challenges, it's time we changed the conversation to address a far more expansive and positive picture. As longevity has given rise to the great challenges of Alzheimer's and the chronic diseases of the elderly, so too is it witnessing the most vibrant and engaged group of older people in human history…More must be done to change the way older people are viewed by the policy sector, business and society at large. Attitudes and media portrayals must change to reflect not just the challenges but also the upside of aging. Successful and purposeful aging is a focus of longevity, just as concerns about healthy aging are. We need more attention on new possibilities for work, productivity and beneficial purpose that can enhance individual lives and improve the broader society.” Paul Irving is Chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. An April 16, 2015 Time listing of the 100 Most Influential People included Alzheimer’s researcher Rudolph Tanzi. According to the article, “But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Tanzi stands out as one of the few scientists who has committed his career to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, and last year he brought us one step closer. In a truly remarkable feat, Tanzi created what’s been nicknamed “Alzheimer’s in a dish”—human brain cells that, in a petri dish, develop the markers of this terrible disease. This makes it possible for scientists to better study which of the countless drugs out there might actually slow or wipe out this mind-blowing disease.” An April 15, 2015 News Center 5 ABC (Boston) article reported that the outlet won a National Headliner Award for a segment with Greg O’Brien. Watch the segment here. POLICY AND REGULATION
An April 16, 2015 Generic Pharmaceutical Association press statementannounced the the launch of the Biosimilars Council, a new initiative to promote biosimilar access. The council will work "to ensure a positive regulatory, reimbursement, political and policy environment that supports patient access to these more affordable new medicines," according to a release. It will also provide the public with resources explaining the safety and effectiveness of the follow-on versions of costly and complex biologic drugs. The group released a handbook explaining the science behind biosimilars and the regulatory framework in which they're developed. The handbook: http://bit.ly/1HcxVeC
An April 16, 2015 AlzForum article reported that “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved the protocol for a four-year, $100 million study called Imaging Dementia—Evidence for Amyloid Scanning.” According to the article, “This massive study aims to examine how well amyloid imaging performs in clinics outside the small, rarefied world of clinical trials and tertiary academic care. IDEAS will measure whether getting a scan can affect the diagnosis, management, and future healthcare of people whose cognitive symptoms cannot be definitively attributed to a cause by clinical diagnosis alone.”
An April 16, 2015 Health Affairs opinion piece by Rena Conti, Robert Glassman, and Mark Ratain called for new pricing policies for new cures. According to the authors, “One critical incentive for ongoing drug discovery and development is the temporary monopoly pricing that manufacturers can command for novel drugs. Yet this incentive, embedded in current patent and regulatory policy, does not guarantee that manufacturers will deliver novel products with clinically meaningful benefits. Indeed there are many diseases—including Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—that pose significant patient, family, and societal burden but have not benefited from meaningful treatment advances…We believe that new cures require new pricing policies — policies that foster investments in novel drugs that provide clinically meaningful benefits to patients today and in the future, while discouraging development of drugs with modest therapeutic benefit. Achieving these goals requires a new system that complements current patent and regulatory policy and is driven by payments that reward therapeutic advance when it is delivered to individuals and society.”