Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Alzheimer's and the 21st Century Cares Act

A bill known as the EUREKA Act 1 ... “Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s” ... was introduced with bipartisan support (62 co-sponsors) in the U.S. Senate by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker in 2015, and in 2016 companion legislation 2 was introduced in the House of Representatives with 37 co-sponsors.  This Act was intended to “establish EUREKA Prize Competitions to accelerate discovery and development of disease-modifying, preventive, or curative treatments for Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, to encourage efforts to enhance detection and diagnosis of such diseases, or to enhance the quality and efficiency of care of individuals with such diseases.” 1

Funding for the EUREKA Act 
3 called for annual award amounts not to exceed $10,000,000 for each fiscal year from 2017 through 2021, with a provision that such funding would not supplant any other NIH funding for Alzheimer’s research. 

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed into law the “21st Century Cures Act,” 
4 a $6.3 billion package of healthcare legislation that incorporated some aspects of the proposed EUREKA Act.  According to the press release of Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, one of the House sponsors of the proposed EUREKA Act, the EUREKA section of the 21st Century Cures Act 5 would instruct the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to support prize competitions to accelerate the discovery and development of treatments to alleviate, prevent, and cure certain diseases, like Alzheimer’s.”

However, unlike the proposed EUREKA Act, the 21st Century Cures Act does not allocate a specific sum of money to be spent solely on Alzheimer’s research.  Of the $6.3 billion allocated by the 21st Century Cures Act, $4.8 billion is authorized for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $1 billion for states to use for opioid abuse and treatment programs, and $500,000 for FDA matters.  Of the $4.8 billion NIH funding, “$1.4 billion is for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, $1.8 billion for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, and $1.6 billion for the BRAIN initiative.” 
4

Money set aside for the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative, was established by President Obama in 2013 “to help researchers uncover the mysteries of brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).”
6 Unlike the proposed EUREKA legislation, the BRAIN initiative is not focused solely on Alzheimer’s, so just how much of the $1.6 billion set aside for BRAIN that will actually be spent specifically on Alzheimer’s research remains to be seen.

The 21st Century Cures Act legislation does represent progress.  However, until our federal government commits massive amounts of money to specifically target Alzheimer’s research, as it has done for several decades to learn more about cancer and heart disease, Alzheimer’s will remain a major killer of Americans, a massive stress inducer to millions of caregivers, and a major cost burden for our Medicare and Medicaid programs.

If you would like Dr. Vann to respond to questions or comments about this column, please email him directly at acvann@optonline.net.  You can learn more about his journey with Alzheimer’s at 
www.allansvann.blogspot.com where you can also read his articles that have been published in caregiver magazines, medical journals, and in major newspapers.   All of his columns on The Huffington Post may be accessed at www.huffingtonpost.com/allan-s-vann.  
  1. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2067/all-info
  2. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5073/all-info
  3. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2067/text
  4. http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/article/interoperability/president-obama-signs-21st-century-cures-act-law
  5. https://cohen.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cohen-hails-senate-passage-eureka-act-part-21st-century-cures-act
  6. https://www.whitehouse.gov/brain

Today's Caregiver, March 14, 2017.  Access online only at: 

4 comments:

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  2. This is a great write up, I was also a victim, having Alzheimer's disease for many years. My journey and diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease began when I was 58 years old. My medical condition was heart broken. The first thing I did was get myself informed. I was subjected to different medications including Donepezil, galantamine, by my doctors for treatment without the assurance of having a positive improvement. Despite my visit to several doctors my health wasn't getting better. Also I keep thinking there has to be another alternative to address this, using herbal remedy, this information reinforced my original gut feelings that I should not give up. I decided to look for another option to help my condition. I’ve made many lifelong friends when I was looking for a natural cure for my ailment. To say it gets better is an understatement. I find hope in the darkest of days when I saw a testimony of people talking about Dr. Charanjit's herbal product. I started having series of thoughts, thereafter I ordered his product and started using it, to give the Alzheimer's disease an aggressive approach, the symptoms progressively got better.
    Luckily, everything seemed to be okay after a few weeks of starting the herbs, this was a pleasant surprise. I promised myself that I would stay strong. You sit living in fear of the reality what you may face, never really knowing what will happen until it does. I am indebted and decided to always share my experience.
    If you have same problem and ready to give a try check out his blog: https://curetoalzheimer.blogspot.com/ or contact him through charantova@gmail.com.

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