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Alzheimer's disease costs to soar over next 40 years

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The number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease will more than double by 2050, causing cumulative treatment costs to exceed $20 trillion, according to a report released today from the Alzheimer's Association.

The economic analysis estimates that the number of adults age 65 and older with Alzheimer's will increase from the current 5.1 million to 13.5 million by mid-century. As a result, the annual price tag for care will rise from $172 billion, which is currently spent today, to about $1 trillion.

In an effort to motivate Congress to increase funding for drug research, the report presents two alternate scenarios that would significantly reduce costs: one in which a disease-modifying treatment could delay the onset of Alzheimer's by five years, and another in which a hypothetical treatment could slow the progression of this condition.

But as Medpage Today reports it's unclear whether either scenario is remotely possible:

For any treatment requiring FDA approval to become available in 2015, it would almost certainly have to be in the clinical pipeline now.

Also, for everyone who develops Alzheimer's disease to receive it prior to developing symptoms, there would need to be a reliable test to identify these individuals, and the treatment would have to be safe enough for all of them to receive it. Right now, there is no such test.

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