The emotional and physical toll that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can have on an individual, their family and caregivers is devastating. Family and friends watch as their loved ones slip away, becoming a shadow of who they once were.
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The true cause for Alzheimer's disease is unknown, but evidence points to a buildup of proteins, known as plagues and tangles within the brain that cause nerve and cell death, according to the National Institute on Aging.
A degenerative disease, the statistics for Alzheimer’s disease are staggering.
“Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal disease that attacks the brain and affects a person’s ability to remember, think, plan and ultimately function. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases” Dean M. Hartley, PhD. Director of Science Initiatives for the Alzheimer's Association told FOXBusiness.com.
In 2016, the direct cost to the American society caring for those with Alzheimer's will total an estimated $236 billion.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is the most common form of dementia and 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Roughly 1 in 9 Americans over the age of 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, more than 5 million people.
Despite the physical and emotional cost, the financial burden is shocking as well.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that AD is the most expensive disease in the country, costing taxpayers more than $18 million each hour.
The total cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are estimated at $236 billion a year of which $160 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid alone.
"One Alzheimer's study costs about the same it costs to build Lucas Oil Stadium and every drug needs at least two"
By 2050, Alzheimer’s disease treatment is estimated to cost the nation $1.1 trillion.
“In the case of Eli Lilly we have been in Alzheimer’s disease research for 28 years, we haven't generated revenue … our shareholders and our leadership decided that if we are going to be an innovation based pharmaceutical company we are going to place a big bet” says Phyllis Ferrell, Vice President, Global Alzheimer’s Platform Team at Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY).
“We are in over $3 billion, with another billion this year alone... one Alzheimer study costs about the same it costs to build Lucas Oil Stadium and every drug needs at least two of those” says Ferrell.
Despite the costs, fast moving research and promising medical trials focusing on early detection and minimizing symptoms, including Eli Lilly’s most recent third-stage clinical trial for the drug Solanezumab, give confidence to not only patients but also to the health care industry.
“By slowing down the progression of the disease, decreasing the burden of the health care system, decreasing the burden on caregivers and out of pocket expense, increasing productivity; people can stay in the workforce longer and keep people in their homes longer. This will create a huge amount of value in the health care system” adds Ferrell.
What can you do? From education to donations and signing up for clinical trials, there are options.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and FOXBusiness.com sat down with ‘Access Hollywood’s’ Liz Hernandez who recently teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Association along with other notable stars, like skateboarder Tony Hawk, Janel Parrish of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and Katie Lowes of ‘Scandal’ to spread awareness and the hashtag #endALZ.