The High Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease

A new report from King’s College in England estimates that within three years, the costs of treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will rise 20% from current levels, to $1 trillion a year.

The 2015 World Alzheimer Report estimates that more than 45 million people now live with dementia and that by 2050 that number will triple to more than 130 million people. Authors of the report say that about 10 million people will be newly diagnosed with dementia this year alone — one person every 3.2 seconds. That number may be smaller than reality. The study notes that significant numbers of aging people in low-income nations develop dementia without ever being diagnosed or treated.

The Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care, hosted at the Health Service and Population Research Department, King’s College London, began studying dementia trends just two years ago but has already amassed a staggering database of information.

The group notes that about one out of every eight people over 60 have dementia.

Although the citizens of high-income countries are trending away from smoking and continue to managing their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which means more people live longer and are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia, a corresponding increase in obesity and diabetes acts as a countermeasure.

The study’s authors note that:

Since most of the public health interventions that have been proposed to reduce the incidence of dementia also have benefits in reducing incidence and mortality from other chronic diseases, one should expect that reductions in prevalence arising from reduced incidence of dementia may be offset, at least to some extent, by reduced mortality and longer survival with dementia.

Nonetheless, a study in the United Kingdom recently reports that health and social costs for treating dementia there are about the same as the total cost for treating cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The report nags nations to increase their investment in developing therapies for Alzheimer’s: “Research investment for dementia should be upscaled, proportionate to the societal cost of the disease. This research investment should be balanced between prevention, treatment, cure and palliative care.”

In the last 20 years, there have been more than 120 Alzheimer’s drugs that failed FDA trials. Only five drugs on the market can be prescribed for Alzheimer’s, and none of them decreases the progression of the disease.

To your health and wealth,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Get the top investment trends for 2015 in medicine and technology from the former head of the most popular science magazine in the world. Simply sign up for our Tomorrow in Review e-letter for FREE right here. Don’t miss out. Click here now to sign up for FREE.

The Daily Reckoning