Dementia is 'one of greatest enemies of humanity' - PM

Care for dementia patients More funding for dementia research has been announced by the prime minister

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A "big, bold global push" is needed to beat dementia, David Cameron has told a summit in London.

He pledged to accelerate progress on dementia drugs, by increasing funding and making new drugs more accessible.

The prime minister was speaking to an audience of 300 experts who have pledged to find a cure by 2025.

He wants a team of experts to report back to him by October on how drugs companies can be encouraged to develop new dementia medicines.

In his speech, the prime minister told experts that dementia is one of the "greatest enemies of humanity".

Start Quote

It is important to see dementia as a disease and one that we need to better understand so that we can tackle it”

End Quote David Cameron

"We are renewing our commitment to say by 2025 we want to find a cure to dementia. We should treat this as a disease rather than as some natural part of ageing," he said.

He said there was a need to develop more drugs and get them to patients more quickly. For that to happen, international collaboration and more money for dementia research was needed, he said.

Speaking to an audience of global dementia and finance specialists, David Cameron said he would speed up progress on dementia drugs by getting experts to come up with new proposals on areas such as drug patent extensions, by October.

He added: "Something like £50m a year is being spent on dementia research, rather than the £590m spent on cancer. It is important to see dementia as a disease and one that we need to better understand so that we can tackle it."

Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4's You And Yours that more needs to be done to improve the lives of those with dementia.

"So much of this is about making sure hospitals and care homes treat people with dementia better and, absolutely crucially, that we build dementia-friendly communities where all of us try and understand better what it's like to live with dementia," he said.


Cancer v dementia research

UK government funded £52m of research into dementia in 2012/13

It has pledged to increase this to £66m by 2015

Around £600m is spent on cancer research each year

For every one dementia scientist in the UK, at least six work in cancer

Source: Alzheimer's Research UK


Earlier, Alzheimer's Research UK announced a £100m research campaign and the Medical Research Council (MRC) said it was undertaking the world's biggest study into dementia, involving two million people.

The new world dementia envoy, Dennis Gillings, who was appointed by David Cameron in February, warned that if global leaders do not incentivise businesses to invest in research, the ambition to find a cure by 2025 will not be met.

Start Quote

Hundreds of thousands of people with dementia and their families are struggling without the vital local care services they desperately need.”

End Quote Liz Kendall Labour spokeswoman

Dr Gillings said: "Dementia is a ticking bomb costing the global economy £350bn and yet progress with research is achingly slow. Research must become more attractive to pharmaceuticals so they will invest and innovate.

"Just as the world came together in the fight against HIV/Aids, we need to free up regulation so that we can test groundbreaking new drugs, and examine whether the period for market exclusivity could be extended.

"Without this radical change, we won't make progress in the fight against dementia."

Labour care spokeswoman Liz Kendall said her party supported the government's commitments to research funding, but wanted Mr Cameron to do more to help people currently struggling with dementia.

"Hundreds of thousands of people with dementia and their families are struggling without the vital local care services they desperately need. This isn't good for them, and is a false economy as an increasing number of elderly people with dementia are ending up in hospitals or care homes when they don't need to."

Dr Alison Cook, from the Alzheimer's Society, said the UK's best scientists should be given "the right environment to develop better treatments and ultimately a cure".

She called for the industry to "step up" in order to deliver the G8 summit's pledge of a cure for dementia by 2025.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Scientists want to find a cure but drug companies only want to control it with very expensive drugs: guess who will win.
    The trouble is that in the mean time its left to relations to take care of those that have dementia, but then that's called care in the community, and the government can wash its hands of any responsibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.


  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    I recently spoke to a Doctor who specializes in Dementia, and asked them what I could do to lower the chances of developing it later in life, his instant reply was "stop eating meat".

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Families are pulled in so many directions. No longer near elderly relatives due to moving to find work, or moving to afford a house or rent. if you are working & caring children & someone with dementia is impossibly hard & you need support. Washing and caring for a large elderly Dad who is doubly incontinent aggressive, wont eat & wanders all day & night is hard it's not lazy when you can't do it

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    it's a huge ticking time bomb for this country. The majority of carers will now be in work until they are in their late 60s, before they would have retired earlier to help with elderly family. Social services spending has been cut buy 1/4 and the NHS cannot fund dementia care as private firms are cherry picking its profitable income streams and care home are not regulated (in for profit not care)

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    Great idea. Is the treasury going to fund more research, care and preventative measures? Anyone can say something should be done and draw attention to themselves..Getting something done would have more impact. We could have a referendum on whether to use money for HS2 or NHS projects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    I agree with 241Malcolm, in that it'd be good if life style and diet were the key to avoiding dementia. Trouble is how to fund the research. There's no monetary reward in discovering exercise and eating, or avoiding, certain foods is what's required. So market forces fail here. Maybe some sort of open source medical research would work, like OS software etc, though I've no idea how it'd work :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    I forgot what this article was about by the time I scrolled down here...

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Should we not be looking for a non-drug intervention as well?
    We are spending billions on drugs but is anyone actually interested in the distinct possibility that dementia is worsened by our modern high-corbohydrate diet?

    There is lots of good evidence to suggest that this might be true.

    Is the NHS investigating? Or are they only interested in curing people with drugs? That's not working is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Why is it that I can't believe that this is not about caring for the people with this awful disease but a way for the Prime Minister to improve the profits of the drug companies by leapfrogging the normal safety guidelines?
    Well done lobbyists, Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) and Reform

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Mr Cameron's intentions are very noble as were the G8's Declaration on dementia last November. It is very strange that when one writes to five of the ministers involved about a potential dementia treatment or preventative not one writes back. It makes you wonder where one has to go to get recognition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    85. Artemesia

    In my 1970s childhood we had one and then my other grandmother living with us for years. This was not unusual then and you still see it in Muslim and other recent communities.

    Most people though expect the state to do it from teachers literally changing nappies to old folk needing Social Workers or being dumped in care homes.

    Apart from the morality where is the money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    It's extraordinary that 'western' societies view ageing as a failure - I would suggest the alternative is a somewhat worse. The continuous expectation for us to fight grey, wrinkle and retirement. Our culture has lost perspective on the fact that older people are just you and I in a few years. Dementia is not a time bomb for someone else - We all need a global commitment - [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    I did read somewhere that having a operation can affect the brain, it's to do with the annasetic they use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    I was reading about this and this page is the best one I thought I'd post in relation to the topic...

    Owe, Mr Cameron, the biggest disease, the biggest enemies of humanity are those who spend more on sponsoring terrorists than they do on funding dementia and cancer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    It's misleading of Cameron to call dementia 'a disease'. It's actually a collection of symptoms (you can have some and not others) caused by many different diseases (of which AD is probably the most common) and conditions.

    We could afford to spend the money needed if we ditched Trident and collected all the tax we should.

    Multiple diseases means multiple causes so there's no silver bullet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Dementia has been shown to be caused by elevated levels of very long chain poly unsaturated fatty acids, which enter our bodies when we consume processed unsaturated vegetable oils, the source of trans-fatty acids. Let us return to the natural butter and animal fats, the so called saturated fats, which our ancestors ate with relish and did not experience horrible ailments such as dementia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    People living on their own also tend to slip through the net. Their families often don't see them frequently enough to notice the changes because Mum or Dad puts in more of an effort, their doctors are often too busy to pick up on the symptoms or they don't see one specific one often enough. A friend's Mum has just been diagnosed with Alzheimers. diabetes and skin cancer within 3 months.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Of course dementia is awful - a life sentence for the patient as well as friends and family. Thank you to the BBC for raising the profile of this horrible disease. My husband has Lewy Body dementia and we deal with the effects together, day by day. The news presentation is terrifying. Please try to also include some word of comfort for the sufferer and the carers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    I found the TV news piece on this story barely scratched the surface of the issues at hand. The problems, both direct and indirect, go far beyond a well-spoken aging gent losing his shoes yet receiving help from "the Golf Club". The issue affects the patient's families as much as the patient themselves, unfortunately there is very little care, or education on how to care properly, available to us


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