​Alzheimer's: On the threshold of change
Deep Patel
Jul 12, 2017

The growing need to treat and prevent AD is spurring new research, but healthcare industry stakeholders need to work collaboratively if we are going to successfully bring groundbreaking treatments to market.

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) has become an international healthcare crisis, spurring some of the greatest minds in healthcare to think more holistically about how to tackle this devastating disease. The disease affects an estimated 5.5 million Americans and is growing as our population ages; the prevalence of AD is expected triple to more than 14 million U.S. patients by 2050.

Billions have been spent on promising drug development projects over the past two decades, yielding precious few treatments that only target symptoms, and ultimately fail to slow progression.

Although the crisis is growing, so is the momentum for change. There is a renewed urgency to develop innovative drugs that treat, cure, or prevent Alzheimer’s. This passion is sparking new collaborations between patient communities, physicians, and other key stakeholders. Such collaborations are the key to finding and successfully implementing innovative solutions that address the massive unmet medical need.

Is the healthcare industry prepared to capture the opportunity and spark real change to the treatment paradigm? Our most recent white paper, A Call to Action: Alzheimer’s Disease on the Threshold of Change, identifies the five key challenges the industry will need to address to turn aspirations into action

  1. Identifying patients
  2. Understanding the full patient population
  3. Expanding the diagnostic infrastructure
  4. Transforming the treatment paradigm
  5. Affording the cost of care

Moving Alzheimer’s treatment forward will require significant system-wide infrastructure investment akin to the development of oncology clinics and screening initiatives that have led to the current scale of oncology treatment and diagnosis today.

A new treatment paradigm

The time to start thinking about the impact of new treatments – and the subsequent solutions – is now. Reimbursement and funding already present clear and present pain points. Currently, payer spending for drug costs associated with Alzheimer’s is a relatively modest slice of the total costs, which are now nearly $260B. Innovative new treatments are likely to be expensive, adding significantly to these totals. A single drug at $18,500 per patient annually, for example, would result in ~$30B in annual drug costs if used in clinical stage patients in the U.S. alone. If we include prodromal stage patients, those with initial symptoms of deteriorating memory that still function independently, overall spending on Alzheimer’s would almost double to ~$55B – and that doesn’t include related healthcare costs.

Despite the clinical and financial challenges, proactive industry leaders have an opportunity to be at the forefront of supporting the successful implementation of new Alzheimer’s treatments, helping to ensure new treatments are commercially successful, effective, affordable, and make a meaningful impact to patient’s lives. For more details on each of these challenges and the implications for clinical research and commercialization strategies, the full paper can be downloaded here.

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