The United States’ National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease calls for an effective treatment by 2025, but notably, does not fund this goal (see Jan 2012 news story). The Alzheimer’s Accountability Act of 2014, a bill introduced in Congress April 1 by congressman Brett Guthrie (R- Kentucky), seeks to close this gap. The Accountability Act would require the director of the National Institutes of Health to submit an annual budget to Congress that would stipulate the dollar amount required to meet each milestone of the national plan. The proposed act does not appropriate any money.
“The Accountability Act tries to make the national plan more amenable to step-by-step accomplishment by Congress. It’s a move in the right direction,” said Ron Petersen, who chairs the Advisory Council appointed by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA).
The new act is intended to nudge Congress along, said fellow council member George Vradenburg of the advocacy group USAgainstAlzheimer’s. “It would be much more straightforward if Congress were to quickly ramp up to the money needed. However, Congress is not moving forward with the alacrity that most of us in the field believe is essential,” Vradenburg said.
The Advisory Council’s recently released recommendations for 2014 estimate that $2 billion annually will be needed to meet the goals of the National Plan. Alzheimer’s disease currently receives around half a billion dollars in total funding, about a tenth of the money allocated to cancer, according to NIH figures. Congress allocated an additional $50 million in Alzheimer’s research funding in 2012 (see Feb 2012 news story), $45 million in 2013 (see Sep 2013 news story), and $80 million in 2014 (see Jan 2014 news story), but many in the field see this as a drop in the bucket. The president’s proposed 2015 budget contains no new funding for Alzheimer’s, Petersen noted.
The council’s 2014 guidance also advises reforming clinical trials to speed up drug testing, studying ways to improve the early diagnosis of AD, and adding research milestones for other forms of dementia, such as frontotemporal, Lewy body, and vascular dementia, to the National Plan. The council recommended that the United States help establish a Global Alzheimer’s Action Plan, in keeping with goals expressed at the G8 Dementia Summit in London in December 2013 (see Dec 2013 news story).—Madolyn Bowman Rogers.
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