Why Drugs Giant Is Wrong To Give Up On Dementia

Published: 22/05/2019

We have come to put our trust in science and that trust has been repaid many times over.   Think of the once killer diseases science has either virtually eliminated through vaccines – smallpox and polio, for example – or discovered treatments for, such as diabetes and many cancers



 
 
                                                                                                        Written by: Ken Oxley  
                                                                                                    Alzheimer's Society  
                                                                                                     North East & Cumbria

We have come to put our trust in science and that trust has been repaid many times over.
 
Think of the once killer diseases science has either virtually eliminated through vaccines – smallpox and polio, for example – or discovered treatments for, such as diabetes and many cancers.
 
These advances were hard won, the result of on-going investment and diligent research.
 
So it was with a heavy heart that I greeted pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s announcement earlier this month that it is effectively throwing in the towel on dementia.
 
The company is withdrawing from neuroscience research, focusing instead on areas where it has ‘strong scientific leadership’.
 
This is a bitter blow to those affected by the condition – almost 5,000 in Northumberland and 850,000 across the UK, a figure that’s set to more than double over the next 30 years.
 
If Pfizer believes chasing a cure for dementia is a waste of money and resources, as its decision implies, what message does that send to those people?
 
They’d be forgiven for interpreting the situation as hopeless – for believing a cure will never be found.


 
It cannot be denied that progress is slow and it would be wrong to give people false hope. The grim reality is that there is no major breakthrough on the horizon.

But at Alzheimer’s Society we are not giving up. We joined forces with the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer’s Research UK to establish the UK Dementia Research Institute in London in 2016 – a £250million investment.
 
And in Newcastle we have invested £1.7m to create a Centre of Excellence for dementia care, aimed at improving the lives of those living with the condition now.
 
We believe passionately that research holds the key to not only improving the treatment of those currently living with dementia, but also to finding a cure.
 
And we’re convinced that day will come. No doubt many of us won’t live to see it, but a cure can and will be found eventually.
 
Visit our website at www.alzheimers.org.uk or call our North East office on 0191 2983989.
 
Ken Oxley is the Media Officer for the Alzheimer’s Society in the North East and Cumbria


Notes to editors:
  • Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading dementia charity. We provide information and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, 1 million people will be living with the condition. This will soar to two million by 2051.
  • Dementia deaths are rising year on year and 225,000 will develop dementia this year - that’s one every three minutes.
  • Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia. 
  • Alzheimer’s Society funds research into the cause, care, cure and prevention of all types of dementia and has committed to spend at least £150 million on research over the next decade. This includes a £50 million investment in the UK's first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
  • Until the day we find a cure, Alzheimer's Society will be here for anyone affected by dementia - wherever they are, whatever they're going through. Everything we do is informed and inspired by them.
  • Let's take on dementia together. Volunteer. Donate. Campaign for change. Whatever you do, unite with us against dementia.  
  • Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0330 333 0804 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk.  
  • Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk  
  • Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @Alzheimerssoc
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Alzheimer’s Society YouTube channel www.youtube.com/AlzheimersSociety