Guest column submitted by the Idaho Congressional Delegation: Senator Mike Crapo, Senator Jim Risch, Representative Mike Simpson and Representative Russ Fulcher
In recognition of June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we had the opportunity through a Congressional Record Statement to honor Idahoans and their families fighting this dreaded disease. We pay tribute to all those affected by Alzheimer’s as we also express gratitude to the advocates in our communities working hard to advance Alzheimer’s research and other important efforts that are making progress in fighting this disease and supporting families dealing with Alzheimer’s. We continue to work to ensure federal policies enable, not discourage, innovators to quickly bring their life-saving discoveries to market in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
The following is our Congressional Record Statement:
We recognize June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 27,000 people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in Idaho, while 65,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease. In honor of these Idaho families and the millions of other Americans and their loved ones impacted by Alzheimer’s, we continue the fight to stop harmful policies delaying access to treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.
The Food and Drug Administration’s, FDA, accelerated approval pathway has provided a lifeline for countless Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease by advancing access to safe and effective medicines years before these treatments could otherwise come to market. Numerous studies show that drugs that have gone through the accelerated approval pathway reach patients an average of more than three years before they would otherwise.
Unfortunately, the current Administration has taken unprecedented steps to erode this pathway, deterring life-saving innovation and delaying access to care by restricting Medicare coverage for an entire class of potential Alzheimer’s therapies. This harmful coverage decision carries grave implications for Alzheimer’s patients. Every day without access to FDA-approved drugs, more than 2,000 people transition to a more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s where they are no longer eligible for treatment, reports the Alzheimer’s Association. The Administration must reverse course and provide access to these life-saving pathways as quickly as possible.
We are grateful to leaders from communities across Idaho and our country who are pivotal in advancing Alzheimer’s and dementia research and other important efforts that are making progress in fighting this disease and supporting families dealing with this dreaded disease. The advocates’ personal experiences with the disease’s effects in their own families often fuel and inform their engagement. Their perspectives are deeply valuable as we continue to work to improve drug access and affordability. This includes working to ensure federal policies enable, not discourage, innovators to quickly bring their life-saving discoveries to market.
Time and again, American ingenuity has proven it can meet the challenges we face, if the federal government gets out of the way. This Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is a reminder of the pressing need to better empower patients and doctors to decide the treatments right for them. Throughout this month, as Americans wear purple and participate in other awareness and educational activities and in the years ahead, let’s do all we can to alleviate the burden on families across our country by easing access to innovative treatment for Alzheimer’s.
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