If it were any other disease, outraged patients and their families would be writing their legislators and demonstrating in front of drug makers’ headquarters. But Alzheimer’s is no ordinary disease, so the latest revelation that very few experimental drugs are being tested to see whether they might help people with moderate, let alone severe, dementia passed this week without so much as an indignant press release from advocacy groups or other Alzheimer’s organizations.

Patients with dementia “cannot advocate for themselves,” said Dr. Sam Gandy, a neurologist and Alzheimer’s researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Caregivers are too exhausted to be advocates. This shifts the advocacy burden to either young people, who still think of themselves as invincible, or midlife people, whose lives are already overstuffed with children and aging parents, many of whom are in no hurry to add advocacy roles.”

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • Thanks for the reply, but I’m still doubtful. By the time you learn the drug works and you receive regulatory approval to launch, the patent term will have expired.

  • Can someone more knowledgable please explain the financial incentives for looking at early-onset AD in younger people? Suppose you start giving a drug to a group of people in their mid-50s with some markers of AD but who are asymptomatic people. Even if left untreated the cognitive decline would not start for years. So clinical trials demonstrating that the drug is effective would need to be extraordinarily long, and, even if successful, by the time went on the market there’d be very little if any patent term left. How is this supposed to work?

    • There 70million people with Alzheimer’s disease now worldwide and 200 million people at risk for AD worldwide. To do a AD Prevention study you need 60,000 to 100,000 people, half taking placebo and half taking the active drugs. If it works you have a market of 200-million people to sell to. So if it works you will still make out big!!!

Sign up for our Daily Recap newsletter

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy