National Alzheimer's plan released

The Obama administration released the country’s first national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease on Tuesday. Calling it a roadmap, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the new national plan “addresses every aspect of what it is to confront Alzheimer’s disease.”

Based on a draft created by an advisory council of members from the Alzheimer’s disease community, the national plan is a long-term strategy that focuses on research, providing tools such as education and training to healthcare providers, support for caregivers, patients and their families and a targeted awareness campaign.

“As our understanding of the disease has evolved, we’ve responded with the best science and support services we’ve had to offer,” said Sebelius during the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and broadcast live on the web. “We’ve made considerable progress, but what we know is a lot more needs to be done and it needs to be done right now because people with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones and caregivers need help right now.”

The creation of a national Alzheimer’s plan was required by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this year. The Obama administration announced in February that it will invest $156 million over the next two years to fight the disease.

The administration made $50 million of that investment immediately available for Alzheimer’s research with another $80 million committed next year. A goal of the national plan is to develop effective preventive and treatment approaches by 2025. During Tuesday’s announcement, the administration revealed two clinical trial grants as part of this year’s $50 million commitment.

Through the NIH, $7.9 million is going to a five-year study involving 240 participants to learn if a nasal spray delivering insulin to the brain can improve memory, cognition and daily functioning, and $16 million is going to a five-year prevention trial focusing on people who are cognitively normal but at high risk for Alzheimer’s.

Calling the national plan “bold” and “ambitious,” Ronald Petersen, MD, the director of Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center said at the summit that the plan was just the beginning of the work that needs to be done.

It was a sentiment echoed by other speakers at the summit and coming from the Alzheimer’s community throughout the day after the plan was announced.

“We have just begun,” said Eric Hall, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and a member of the national plan’s advisory council, in a statement. “We must foster the spirit of commitment and cooperation that has gotten us to this point so that we can put legs on this plan, ensure seamless implementation, and garner funding for scientific research and care.”

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