Treatment To Delay Dementia By Five Years Would Reduce Cases By 33%

A new report – Defeat Dementia: The evidence and a vision for action – from Alzheimer’s Research UK, featuring analysis from Office of Health Economics (OHE), has modelled the impact of new treatments for dementia were they to be introduced in the UK from 2020. As the first G8 Dementia Summit legacy event takes place in London (19 June) to discuss greater investment in dementia, the report reveals that a therapy delaying onset of dementia by five years would both reduce the number of cases by a third and alleviate economic costs by 36%, or over £21 billion, by 2050.

Alzheimer’s Research UK and OHE’s analysis modelled the current and future socio-economic impacts of dementia in the UK, estimating prevalence and associated care costs up to 2050. The team then modelled the impact that disease modifying therapies might bring if introduced in 2020. Two scenarios were modelled: a therapy to delay disease onset, and an intervention that would slow disease progression.

In December 2013, the G8 Dementia Summit saw international health leaders state a collective ambition to develop a disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025. The report reveals the impact such a breakthrough in the next decade would bring to the UK.

Headline findings from the OHE analysis reveal:

  • The number or people in the UK aged 60+ who will be living with dementia is projected to double over the next 25 years and to reach 2 million by 2050.
  • The economic cost to the UK of caring for people with dementia is estimated more than double from £23.6 billion in 2014 to £59.4 billion by 2050.
  • With a large part of care costs met by informal carers (predominantly close family members), around 1.7 million informal carers will be needed by 2050, compared to 706,000 today.
  • A therapy that could delay onset of dementia by five years would mean 666,000 (33%) fewer people with dementia and 566,000 (33%) fewer informal carers by 2050. This would cost the economy £21.2bn less in 2050 (£38.2 billion instead of £59.4 billion, a 36% saving).
  • A treatment that could slow dementia progression by 25% would reduce the number of people with the most debilitating severe form by almost half (8% of people with dementia in 2050, rather than 14%).

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“The Defeat Dementia report shows the benefits to the UK if we achieve the G8 ambition of a disease modifying therapy in the next ten years and the figures are a compelling incentive. Only high quality research can achieve a world where a third fewer lives are devastated by dementia with tens of billions of pounds saved in the process ever year. The social and economic arguments for greater worldwide collaboration and investment into accelerating dementia research towards new breakthroughs could not be clearer.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK is investing more than any other UK charity to realise these ambitions, focusing on working with the best scientists at home and overseas to drive treatment development and prevention strategies that will ease the burden of dementia today and eradicate it tomorrow.”

Jon Sussex, Deputy Director of the OHE and co-author of the report, said:
“Projecting how many people will have to live with dementia in future is not straightforward, but the results are crystal clear. The economic evidence drives the inescapable conclusion that the scope for improving lives and saving costs is enormous. Research aimed at finding ways to delay the onset of dementia and slow the rate at which it worsens offers the prospect of great benefits.”

Alison Carter, an Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter from Kent, whose father has vascular dementia, said:
“It’s tantalising to see what impact treatments would have for families and the economy if we could break through against dementia, now we have to make these findings a reality. It feels like we have finally woken up to the problem of dementia and with the world’s health leaders committing to developing treatments, there is an optimism that I’ve never felt before. Treatments that slow these diseases down or head them off for a time might not be the ultimate cure, but they would finally begin to tame dementia to a point where we could live with it far more successfully.”

For more background on the report, read our blog: The difference global action against dementia could make