Biomedical Advances in Alzheimer's Disease

Publication Date: June 2005

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Health



Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a severely debilitating neurodegenerative condition that currently affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans, with a feasible range of 1.1 to 4.8 million. As the American population ages, the number of people with AD is expected to increase dramatically to approximately 13.2 million affected individuals by 2050 (range: 8.0-16.0 million). Medicare costs to treat a person with AD are almost three times greater than the average for other beneficiaries, and are anticipated to reach $49.3 billion by 2010. Similarly, costs to the Medicaid program could increase from $18.2 billion in 2000 to $33 billion annually in less than 10 years. The recent death of former President Ronald Reagan highlighted not only the challenges of providing health services to an AD patient, but also the devastating impact the disease has on family caregivers.

Since the late 1980s, the dramatic increase in funding for AD research has rapidly expanded our understanding of the disease. However, unlike other important chronic diseases we do not yet have any proven preventive interventions or effective treatments for curing AD. In 1999, at the instruction of Congress, NIH established the AD Prevention Initiative to accelerate basic research and the translation of research findings into clinical practice.

Funding for AD research has been appropriated for many different activities: basic research, clinical research, health services research, and education and training. In addition to budgets that may include funding opportunities for AD research or services, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2005 (P.L. 108-447), appropriated amounts to various agencies and projects supporting AD research (subject to the 0.8% rescission adjustment).