Cameron: dementia one of humanity’s greatest enemies

Published on Thursday, 19 June 2014 11:25
Written by Daniel Mason

Dementia is now one of humanity's "greatest enemies" and there must be a "big global push" to defeat the illness, David Cameron will say today.

The prime minister will pledge a new drive by the UK to discover new drugs and treatments to slow the onset of dementia or even find a cure by 2025.

Speaking at a summit of world health and finance leaders in London, Cameron will argue that currently market failure is "perilously undermining dementia research and drug development".

"We need investment in research, greater collaboration, better incentives for taking new treatments to market and earlier access to innovative new treatments for patients," he will say.

The specific proposals will cover patent extensions, earlier access to new drugs for patients, greater research collaboration and facilitating higher levels of investment - to be in place by October.

Cameron will say: "The truth is dementia now stands alongside cancer as one of the greatest enemies of humanity.

"In the UK alone there are around 800,000 people living with dementia, worldwide that number is 40 million - and it is set to double every 20 years. We have to fight to cure it."

He will add: "We need to join up the dots and create a big global push to beat this. It will take years of work but we have shown with other diseases that we can make progress and we will do so again."

Meanwhile Dr Dennis Gillings, the World Dementia Envoy, will describe the illness as a "ticking bomb costing the global economy £350bn and yet progress with research is aching slow".

He will say: "Research must become more attractive to pharmaceuticals so they will invest and innovate.

"Just as the world came together in the fight against HIV/Aids, we need to free up regulation so that we can test groundbreaking new drugs and examine whether the period for marker exclusivity could be extended.

"Without this radical change, we won't make progress in the fight against dementia."

The charity Alzheimer's Research UK published a report today showing that a therapy delaying the onset of dementia by five years would reduce the number of cases by a third and alleviate costs by 36%, or £21bn, by 2050.

Dr Eric Karran, its director of research, said: "The Defeat Dementia report shows the benefits to the UK if we achieve the G8 ambition of a disease modifying therapy in the next 10 years and the figures are a compelling incentive.

"Only high quality research can achieve a world where a third fewer lives are devastated by dementia with tens of billions of pounds saved in the process every year."

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