Republican Candidates Make Fight Against Alzheimer's a National Priority

Gingrich, Huntsman, and Bachmann urge bold steps against costly disease affecting millions of families
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2012 Presidential Candidates are answering the calls from thousands of Alzheimer's disease advocates around the country asking leaders how they would stop Alzheimer's, a disease that affects 5.4 million Americans and cost the nation $187 billion last year.

Three presidential candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann—are the first to release videos discussing how they would address the Alzheimer's crisis and lead a national effort to stop the disease. The videos represent the first indication that the fight against Alzheimer's will be an issue in the 2012 Presidential race. To view all three videos, please visit: http://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/alz2012/.

"Alzheimer's disease will cost our nation $2 trillion over the next decade if we don't act," said George Vradenburg, co-founder and chair of USAgainstAlzheimer's, who led the effort to gather comments from all 2012 candidates. "These three candidates emphasize that a strategy of curing Alzheimer's disease can be a critical driver in reducing health care costs, with the proper regulatory environment and private and philanthropic partnerships and investment. We look forward to hearing from the other candidates, including President Obama, on how they would address Alzheimer's."

In the past month, USAgainstAlzheimer's reached out to the campaigns of all 2012 presidential hopefuls, including President Obama, seeking a video response to how they would address the Alzheimer's crisis. The following are excerpts from the videos received thus far:

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has long made Alzheimer's disease one of the centerpieces of his campaign, outlining a series of proposals in his new "21st Century Contract with America" that emphasize the need for greater brain science research, medical innovation and a more agile Federal Drug Administration. "Alzheimer's affects millions of people, and it affects the families of millions of people because an Alzheimer's caregiver is twice as likely to have a health problem as somebody who's not a caregiver. Alzheimer's is going to cost us between now and 2050, as much as 20 trillion dollars, and that's why it's very important that we take steps such as I'm proposing in my brain science initiative," Gingrich said. To see Gingrich's video, click here.

Ambassador Jon Huntsman aims to increase funding for research and bolster public-private partnerships to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease. "[Alzheimer's] carries a tremendous human toll, but also a financial toll, driving up health care costs by hundreds of billions of dollars a year. It is a disease with no treatment and no cure, but that doesn't mean there is no hope. Experts believe a cure is possible by the end of this decade, but only with a sustained, targeted, and national commitment," said Huntsman. "Now it is time for us to declare a War on Alzheimer's, and rally the American people around the belief that this disease is beatable." To see Huntsman's video, click here.

In her message, Rep. Michele Bachmann referenced the development of the polio vaccine and how this cure gives hope to those seeking a cure for Alzheimer's. She said, "It was once predicted we would spend $1 billion a year on polio, maybe even more. Today, polio costs us virtually nothing, because Jonas Salk found a vaccine—a cure—and I'd like to see that same thing happen with Alzheimer's. Because I believe a cure is always better—and cheaper—than more care." To see Bachmann's video, click here.

Currently, 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's and the disease impacts 14.9 million caregivers nationwide. In the coming decades, the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer's will triple. Without a cure, over 10 million baby boomers will die from the disease.
Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and remains the only disease in the top ten with no means of prevention, treatment or cure. It is a disease that destroys not only one's memory and shortens one's life, but disables one's physical capacities as well. Despite the personal and financial toll Alzheimer's inflicts, the National Institutes of Health invests only about $450 million per year toward Alzheimer's research -- less than $90 per person living with the disease.

USAgainstAlzheimer's is a national advocacy campaign and advocacy network committed to stopping Alzheimer's by 2020. An independent non-profit organization working in partnership with the Alzheimer's community, USAgainstAlzheimer's works to advance policies and elect candidates dedicated to stopping the disease by supporting research for a cure. For more information about USAgainstAlzheimer's, visit http://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/.