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 89.

    55. trouteater2
    "There is a cure for dementia. It's called 'family'. Only the lazy slime buckets who can't be bothered to care for their elderly parents want the medical practice to do something about it...."

    I quite agree. In our family we just leave them outside in winter when they get to be a burden. Keeps the urban foxes off the babies too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    What is often overlooked are the many people in their 50s and 60s who develop Alzheimer's. This has a devastating impact not only on the sufferer, but also on the family, which can include teenage children. There is strong evidence now, too, of genetic links, and testing and further research into 'cures' should be made a priority.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Thanks. A quick look at the conclusions says Antioxidants may diminish the risk but it's not conclusive. Still, it's good to see some research into diet as apposed to pills. It'd be nice if a change of life style could stave off or prevent dementia, but who's going to research that? Who's going to fund it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    55.trouteater2 -"There is a cure for dementia. It's called 'family'. Only the lazy slime buckets who can't be bothered to care for their elderly parents want the medical practice to do something about it.."

    Only those who have cared for an 80+yr old demented, demanding parent for five years, doubly incontinent unable to recognise anyone and prone to wandering off, are qualified to pontificate

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.



    Dude, I vote for less taxes so I can look after my children better, not to look after YOUR parents so YOU don't have to."

    My parents are both dead, and neither had dementia, dude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Given the spead of the bio-industry now, 2025 might not be impossible. Cancer will have been nearly mastered. The problem though is that scientists must really understand how the brain works and they are still only scratching the surface. I'm sure treatments to slow and help the condition will be in place, but a cure could well take longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.


    !. No.
    2. Yes.
    3. Ban it.
    4. Yes

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    trouteater2 - you obviously don't have any experience in dealing with people with advanced dementia - I hope you never have to, but if you do, then you will realise how much care and attention patients require.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    We understand how cancer operates quite well as it is quite simple, understanding the brain is a far more complex issue. The main reason we can't really cure cancer or dementia is that we can't fight ageing, and unfortunately both are symptoms of the body ageing. Cancer and dementia were both very rare until we started to increase life expectancy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.


    Dude, I vote for less taxes so I can look after my children better, not to look after YOUR parents so YOU don't have to.

    And, my folks like watching the footie world cup.

  • Comment number 78.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    @55. trouteater2. We cared for my mother at home. It's an enormous task, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of someone who has no control over their actions. Just getting medicine into her could take hours. She would often refuse and I would have to sit there and talk her through each pill. She often refused to eat and sometimes it took someone outside the family to get her to eat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    64.Benjamin "We are paying researchers £600m a year, to: NOT FIND A CURE! If they found it - we would not pay them anymore! As long as they do NOT FIND a cure - they will continue to get paid. WHY SHOULD THEY PUBLISH A FIND?"

    Daft comment assumes researchers are just in it for the money. £600m p.a.research relates to cancer not dementia. Cancer survivors would say well worth it, & so would I

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

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

    I lost my father to lewy bodies dementia in January. He was a cook in the Army, then a cook for shipping companies all his life and ironically a cook in the care home he eventually went into. He ate more fruit & veg than most..was he just unlucky?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    We have a low wage high debt economy, some of the longest working hours in Europe and a culture that treats both the young and the elderly as an embuggerance. And we wonder why we have neither the time or the money to care for dementia patients properly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    We have become victims of the nanny state. We expect the state to sort out all our problems. If we have elderly people with problems in our families, or problem teenagers or problem infants or whatever, we have to stop looking to the state all the time for answers. They are OUR problems, others have theirs. Families need to pull together and help each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    @64 Benjamin

    Yes, we would pay them. We would pay them to tackle other diseases and conditions. Had the scientists had your viewpoint we would not have the drugs and treatments that we all take for granted today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    The great Michael Caine swears by Tumeric to keep his mind sharp. Dementia cases are lower in countries where turmeric is a regular part of the diet. I suggested its use to an elderly relation who found a marked improvement to memory after three months daily use. Drug companies may not like the idea of such a cheap and abundant source of well-being. It may not be a 'cure' but should researched.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    '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'

    While I appreciate the sentiment of this statement it is incorrect. All tax has to come from individuals and business who have created wealth. If you over tax you damage wealth creation meaning less money is available for worthy causes such as this one.


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