Alzheimer’s Disease is a global health challenge, with an estimated 36 million people worldwide affected by dementia. This number is set to double every 20 years, rising to 66 million by 2030 and 115 million by 2050. Despite the number of people affected, it was reported this week in the World Alzheimer Report 2011 that as many as 3 out of 4 people currently living with dementia – up to 28 million of the 36 million in total worldwide – have not received a formal diagnosis and are therefore not receiving appropriate treatment and care.
The report revealed that early therapeutic interventions can be effective in improving cognitive function, treating depression, improving caregiver mood, and delaying institutionalization. The lack of early detection and treatment denies opportunities for improving the quality of life for millions around the world.
Dementia also presents a significant and urgent challenge to health and social care in terms of cost. Overall services are not currently delivering optimal value for money to taxpayers, or people with dementia and their families, as spending is in the later stages of disease and too few people are being diagnosed early enough, if at all. The report states that economic analyses have estimated that by providing formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s earlier, net savings of up to US$ 10, 000 per patient can be made across the disease course from delayed institutionalization.
GE Healthcare supports the findings of the World Alzheimer Report 2011 and is dedicated to supporting early diagnosis through continued product innovation and through its new MIND (Making an Impact on Neurodegenerative Diseases) Coalition, which was announced in July.
“As a company we are focused on doing everything we can with regard to earlier diagnosis, which we believe improves patient management and may also accelerate the development of better treatments,” said Pascale Witz, President and CEO for Medical Diagnostics at GE Healthcare. “We are looking at different imaging biomarkers, as well as continuing to invest in developing imaging technologies such as PET, CT and MRI. We also are developing highly specific molecular imaging agents, one of which is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials.”
“GEHC recently established the MIND Coalition, a multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder body that aims to improve the detection, diagnosis and management of neurodegenerative diseases. We are committed to making a difference by advancing clinical knowledge, driving medical innovations, and developing solutions for people living with neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s”.
The ADI recommends that every country should have a national strategy for dementia that promotes early diagnosis and raises awareness of the value of early detection and available interventions. Priority should also be given to strengthening the medical and service infrastructure, as well as funding research. GE Healthcare is committed to working with organizations such as the ADI to support these goals.