Alzheimer’s disease: the need for a change in approach
While there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there is finally hope on the horizon. With new scientific breakthroughs - public awareness, clinical practice and healthcare systems across the world must evolve in step with scientific progress to deliver meaningful change for those affected. The time to change is now.
Today there are over 55 million people worldwide living with dementia and newly published research from the PAVE group now suggests 416 million people are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease globally.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, which is estimated to cost healthcare systems more than a trillion dollars a year globally, similar to the economic impact of cancer. Without action, by 2050 global dementia costs are expected to more than double to $2.8 trillion.
As a proud member of the global Alzheimer’s community, Lilly has spent over 30 years supporting clinical research efforts and remains committed to finding new solutions that can modify the course of the disease and improve lives.
Hope on the horizon
As the ADI Conference focuses on the hope we share for the future, the advent of new treatment innovations for Alzheimer’s places us at an important crossroads. Sustainable solutions are urgently needed to reduce the toll this disease places on individuals, families and health systems. By acting now, to build awareness of the importance of a timely and accurate diagnosis, and to prepare an ecosystem that supports this alongside appropriate care, we have a chance to revolutionize the management of this devastating disease for generations to come.
To tackle the rising burden of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia services will need to focus on how to help people maintain their independence in daily living without the need for caregiver support for as long as possible.
Today there is consensus that timely clinical and accurate pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can offer those affected a greater chance of benefitting from treatments or participating in clinical trials, as well as allowing more time to plan for the future. However, huge gaps in diagnosis still exist considering that still as many as three-quarters of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease today remain undiagnosed. This situation is exacerbated by unhelpful stigma and misconceptions around the disease which can delay people in seeking help.
Calling for change
Lilly is calling for policies that:
Tackle stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and encourage more people to recognize the early signs and seek help
Arm clinicians with access to advanced diagnostic testing to support earlier and more accurate diagnosis
Ensure appropriate investment in services and pathways to address gaps in diagnosis and care.
Change is needed at a time when stretched healthcare systems are trying to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, now is not the time to deprioritize Alzheimer’s. Now is the time to address current gaps and deliver positive system changes to improve outcomes. For this reason, we very much welcome the recently announced RETHINKING Alzheimer’s disease project set up by the European Brain Council and EFPIA which aims to develop concrete recommendations to improve patient care. With initiatives like this, and the work of organisations like ADI, at Lilly we look forward to realising the ’Hope on the Horizon’ and paving the way for a better future for everyone living with the disease and their loved ones.
 World Health Organization. Dementia. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia. Last accessed April 2022
 Gustavsson, A., Norton, N., Fast, T., Frölich, L., Georges, J., Holzapfel, D., Kirabali, T., Krolak-Salmon, T., Rossini, P., Ferretti, M.T., Lanman, L., Chadha, A., van der Flier, W. (2022). Global estimates on the number of persons across the Alzheimer's disease continuum. Alzheimer's Association. https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.12694
 Union for International Cancer Control. Available at: https://www.uicc.org/what-we-do/thematic-areas-work/investing-cancer-control#_ftn1. Last accessed April 2022
 Alzheimer’s Disease International. Dementia Statistics. Available at: https://www.alzint.org/about/dementia-facts-figures/dementia-statistics/. Last accessed April 2022
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