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 49.

    Research is needed + Less dumbing down of TV progs would help to keep everyone's brain active and in the present.
    Strange as it may seem, more chiropodists on the NHS needed to prevent everyone over 60 (Not 80) become almost house bound because walking is painful and wide fitting/.orthopedic shoes are so expensive and difficult to find in the shops. Getting out of the home is important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    The UK government is to increase research funding into dementia to £66 million by 2015. Meanwhile £42 BILLION has been earmarked for the HS2 rail line. Says it all really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Western societies often see old people as a burden whereas many eastern ones see them as beneficial. Perhaps it will be in the east where progress will be made tackling this condition.
    However, vast amounts of money have been spent on cancer research, currently with very little return so it may just be par for the course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    It's very easy to suggest that we need to do more to help the elderly when it's just words. I also agree that we should. However, the money must come from somewhere and I don't know how much people can stomach. Most people would be happy with 1% extra tax if it went to the right cause but what about 5%? 10%? If every elderly person needed many years of 24/7 care even 20% isn't unlikely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    31. The real prophet
    That's a cynical way to look at it, albeit with more than a smidgen of truth.

    I would prefer pragmatic.

    Different societies have different ways of dealing with the aged.
    The Inuit people leave their old people out on the ice flows for the polar bears. We in the western world just leave the old to starve or freeze to death for the want of money.

    You tell me which is worse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    There is something wonderful that cannot be found in a million pounds worth of drugs and medication and that is family, friendship and love. Alzheimer's patients, and every other kind of patient need those things more than anything else and if they could be bottled and put on the chemist shelves they would be the number one best seller.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    "13. Fraser_Mallen
    People just think this is a joke till it affects them"

    Sad but true for some people although, just like the callous heroes on this forum making insensitive remarks and "jokes" and rightly being moderated, I'm sure they amount to a stupid tiny minority. How we treat our old people is a primary mark of all of us as members of a caring society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    When a dementia sufferer is shown on the news all we see is an elderly person's hand holding a cup of tea and/or a walking frame. Whilst these people may have dementia they may also just be elderly. This does not show the devastation that dementia causes, or that the sufferers may not be elderly. it only shows what it is like to be old. I do not think this aids funding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I saw both my parents die with dementia. It's horrible. Sometimes I think the problem is that people are living far too long today and it's like there body is living on but their mind (or perhaps 'soul') has gone on ahead of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Buy that Harley Davidson while you still can.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Lost a parent recently to dementia and wouldn't wish this hell on any individual or family. We dealt with it as a family. Services did their best but struggle. In the end I was glad the torment was finally over for him. Better early diet would have helped but governmental reaction is 15 years too late in terms of demographics.

    Never mind the 'cure' focus on the prevention and coping medication.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    11.Barbara - "What these people need are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Dementia is caused more due to poor nutrition than genetics"

    'These people' are not all the same and their Dementias have a variety of causes, not necessarily nutritional or genetic

    Whatever the cause of the Dementia, fruit and vegetables, good in themselves, are not going to reverse the condition

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    With two parents with dementia, my expereince of the NHS over 14 years is that it is unfit to care for such people. They 'process' them through the mincing machine as if they were capable 40 year olds. Very distressing. And trying to commmunicate with the NHS is appalling. The hospitals and GPs dont even talk to each other, let alone have any understanding of the needs of the relatives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The way we treat the elderly in this country is a disgrace. That Alzheimer's is treated with such a low priority is a damning indictment. Perhaps if our politicians had put as much into caring for the old, instead of importing half of the Third World and it's problems, we would be in a much better situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    A few years ago a work colleague came to me and told me that his mother had died the night before - "But I do not feel sad today, I lost her ten years ago to dementia" he said.

    It is a horrid disease, and I pray my dearly beloved husband does not fall prey to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    "what sort of a world is it that invests millions, billions in people kicking a ball around a field"
    It's not the world, it's us as individuals. When we stop voting for politicians on the basis of how little tax they'll make us pay, there'll be more money for science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The kind caring Polish young woman sent by the agency was a life saver for my Great Aunt. Enabled her to stay in her own home right up to the end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    It's a sad fact of life that when we get old & are of no further economic use in our society we discard the deadwood.


    That's a cynical way to look at it, albeit with more than a smidgen of truth.

    I would say it's just nature clearing away the deadwood and balancing the books. While the world's population is soaring at unsustainable levels, nature will fight back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Would rather we looked at euthanasia laws again in this country.


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