USAgainstAlzheimer’s Co-Founder and Chair George Vradenburg Appointed to National Alzheimer’s Panel

Advisory Council will propose nation’s first-ever plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease as crisis continues to threaten the nation’s public and fiscal health

WASHINGTON, D.C. – George Vradenburg, co-founder and board chair of USAgainstAlzheimer’s (USA2), today was selected by Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services to assist in the development of a National Strategic Plan for Alzheimer’s. This Advisory Council will advise the Administration on how to address the challenge to America’s families and to Medicare and Medicaid arising from the oncoming tidal wave of baby boomers reaching the age of risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The Committee will provide recommendations on improving health care outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s,  accelerating needed innovation in research and drug discovery, and fashioning accountability mechanisms for steps required to manage the impact and cost of  the disease.

Vradenburg’s mother-in-law suffered from and died of Alzheimer’s, and he has since served as a leading patient advocate. Vradenburg was instrumental in the formation of the Alzheimer’s Study Group, which recommended in 2009 a national Alzheimer’s strategic plan to Congress and the Administration; and in 2010, Vradenburg co-founded the organization USAgainstAlzheimer’s with the bold goal of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020.

“We have an historic opportunity to advance an aggressive, well-coordinated, national effort against the Alzheimer’s crisis,” Vradenburg said. “I am honored to serve on the Advisory Council, and I will work to ensure that we embrace smart, innovative, 21st century approaches to research, drug development and regulation that will reduce the cost and time to market for new preventions, treatments and cures for this disease – all with the goal of saving American lives and reducing healthcare costs for our families.  Even as we work toward prevention, treatment and cure, we must reduce the costs of care to American families and taxpayers through improvements in the quality of care for those already with disease. ”

Currently, 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, a disease that costs American families and taxpayers $183 billion a year.  In the coming decades, the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s will triple, costing American’s more than $2 trillion in the next ten years alone. Without a cure, over 10 million baby boomers will die with the disease.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and remains the only disease in the top ten with no disease-modifying treatment or cure. Despite the personal and financial toll Alzheimer’s inflicts, the National Institutes of Health invests only about $450 million per year toward Alzheimer’s research – less than $90 per person living with the disease.

“The research community believes that it is possible to prevent or control this disease within ten years with a disciplined strategy adequately funded,” Vradenburg said. “To succeed, we need a clear national plan, adequate funding and accountability for results.  With those elements in place, lives will be saved and healthcare spending by families and Medicare/Medicaid will be reduced.”

Ten Federal agency members and eleven other non-Federal Alzheimer’s leaders will join Vradenburg on the Advisory Council including: Chair Ronald Petersen, Ph.D., M.D.; Anita Albright, M.A.; Laurel Coleman, M.D., FACP; Eric Hall; David Hoffman, M.Ed.; Harry Johns; Jennifer Manly; Helen Matheny; David Hyde Pierce; Laura Trejo; George Vradenburg; and Geraldine Woolfolk. The first meeting of the Advisory Council is tentatively scheduled for early October. For more information and full biographies of the members, please visit the HHS website.

As the co-founder and chair of USA2, Vradenburg has brought together a broad coalition of researchers, caregivers, and family members whose loved ones have been afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

In June, Vradenburg testified before the House Foreign Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights urging the U.S. to take a leading role in the global fight against Alzheimer’s, including by ensuring the implementation of a national, comprehensive Alzheimer’s Plan and by ensuring that Alzheimer’s disease is included in this fall’s United Nations’ Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases.

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USAgainst Alzheimer’s is a national advocacy campaign and advocacy network committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020. An independent non-profit organization working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s community, USAgainst Alzheimer’s works to advance policies and elect candidates dedicated to stopping the disease by supporting research for a cure.

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