Clinton unveils plan to find Alzheimer's cure by 2025 with $20 billion in NIH funding
- Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious plan "to prevent, effectively treat and make possible a cure to Alzheimer’s disease by 2025," according to her campaign.
- The cornerstone of Clinton's plan involves boosting NIH research funding for Alzheimer's and related conditions to more than triple its current level. While the NIH invested $586 million in Alzheimer's research last year and the recently passed omnibus spending bill will hike that by another $350 million in FY2016, Clinton's plan would set a $2 billion per year funding threshold for the next decade.
- Clinton would also create a national action plan with the help of NIH researchers and other stakeholders (including pharmaceutical companies) in order to achieve the 2025 goal, and said that ensuring a steady funding stream (rather just one-off increases such as the FY2016 spending bill) would be critical to realizing a cure.
- Another role she believes the federal government can assist clinical researchers with? Finding and recruiting participants for clinical trials.
Clinton aides told CNN that the plan, including the funding level target of $2 billion per year, was crafted in consortium with "leading physicians and scientists" who believe that such a revenue stream would significantly bolster research efforts and make a cure possible within a decade.
"We owe it to the millions of families who stay up at night worrying about their loved ones afflicted by this terrible disease and facing the hard reality of the long goodbye to make research investments that will prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible by 2025," said Clinton in a statement announcing the plan, which would reportedly be paid for via tax reform proposals.
More than 5 million Americans had Alzheimer's disease in 2015, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and that number's expected to swell 40% to 7.1 million by 2025. In 2012, the disease cost the U.S. healthcare system $200 billion.
As industry observers know, 2015 began as a very promising year for new Alzheimer's treatments with the advent of Biogen's aducanumab and Eli Lilly's solanezumab. But followup data for those therapies tempered that initial excitement, and both companies said that more trial results will be required before making a final judgment on the treatments. One fundamental question facing companies chasing Alzheimer's treatments is whether or not targeting amyloid plaque is the most effective avenue for reversing or stopping the disease.
Biogen in particular is betting big on the Alzheimer's research space. In fact, the firm announced in the fall that it would be slashing 11% of its workforce in an effort to save $250 million which will then be funneled into the development of three high-risk Alzheimer's treatments.