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Congress includes $25 million increase for Alzheimer’s research funding in spending bill

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 2015 U.S. government spending package, known as the cromnibus, includes an increase of $25 million for the National Institute on Aging (NIA), with an expectation that much of the funding would support additional research into Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The increase follows a similar $100 million bump included for Fiscal Year 2014 and underscores the bipartisan support in Congress to address the mounting health and fiscal challenges of Alzheimer’s and dementia during a challenging fiscal climate. The increase for Alzheimer’s research amounts to more than 16% of the $150 million bump provided to the NIH overall.

“In order to confront head-on the cancer-size problem that is Alzheimer’s, the U.S. must ramp up funding for Alzheimer’s research to $2 billion a year from the current level of about $560 million,” said George Vradenburg, chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s. “While it is encouraging that Congress once again has recognized the need for more Alzheimer’s research funding, this funding is a minimal down payment on what multiple experts have said is needed to achieve our national goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.” 

Earlier in 2014, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies included in its Fiscal Year 2015 bill a $100 million increase in funding for the NIA. In early December, both the Senate and House Alzheimer’s Task Force leaders sent letters to the Appropriations Committee urging the $100 million increase.

In addition to the research funding, the measure includes language to support other Alzheimer’s programs such as the Alzheimer’s prevention, education and outreach initiative. It also includes language on how NIH sets its research priorities.

The spending bill, which is expected to pass Congress in the next several days, also directs the Centers for Disease Control to recommend ways to obtain more accurate and complete measurements of the death rate due to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and to develop a consensus on the mortality burden of the disease.

Alzheimer’s affects 5.4 million people and 15.5 million caregivers in the U.S. and 44 million people and more than 100 million caregivers worldwide. Recent independent research shows that it is the third leading cause of death and the most expensive health condition in the U.S., outranking cancer and HIV/AIDS as a looming public health and fiscal issue.  It is the only disease in the top 10 that currently has no cure, treatment or prevention. Yet it receives dramatically less government funding, industry focus or scientific study than other, less widespread, diseases.

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