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 129.

    Of course dementia progress is achingly slow. Our Thatcherite society and this government in particular only pretends to care about the elderly, while cutting the NHS in real terms and investing in Trident. We've successfully taught that there is no such thing as society, now we reap the reward.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    The human race has simply over-extended itself. We should have been concentrating on making the lives we had healthier, before we tried to make them longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Interestingly the Alzheimers Society website says,
    'Age is the greatest risk factor for dementia.' 'the influence of inherited genes for Alzheimer's disease in older people seems to be small.'
    Is there a cure?
    Draw your own conclusions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.


    You can, of course, simply donate to one of the charities involved in reasearch. No need to tax more and your contribution is certain to be spent where you want it to be. Do it properly - Gift Aid - and the government will even pay the charity extra!

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    The weird thing is, I think my dad who has had vascular dementia for 3 years and has no short term memory, is actually quite happy in himself. He just bumbles along. Luckily he's placid and conforms.
    The distress is actually felt by relatives who see his brain slowly disintegrate, who have to clear and sell his house, and make the care home arrangements- while still trying to live their own lives

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Aluminium & heavy metals used to be blamed, (from cheap uncoated aluminium saucepans, lead in old Victorian waterpipes and paint plus of course leaded petrol and mercury amalgam in fillings), hopefully there is less of these in our present day environment.
    Unfortunately maybe the greedy manufacturers who poison our diets with excessive fat, salt an sugar have a case to answer for Dementia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I'm afraid I can't see this getting any better.

    1. An aging workforce with decreasing pension income.

    2. A younger generation that see themselves let down by the baby boomers (can't say I blame them).

    3. Out of touch political class who continue to ignore evidence that a problem exists and if they did, do nothing constructive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    For those who have no 'hands on' experience of Dementia, imagine caring for a body; washing it, feeding it, cleaning it, exercising it, generally 'managing' it including its affairs, all at the same time as constantly grieving for the person who used to inhabit that body

    That is the very tiring reality of Dementia

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Some of you think you should look after your own family with Alzheimer's no way,on Sunday I had my mother in- law over for dinner and tea, all after noon she was saying " I am going to die ". She said it 28 times. My husband and I felt ill when she went home. My husband had to call the emergency Doctor because his blood presure was so low. So now she is banned from our house. A home is required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Why should we care? Usually the beeb health stories are about how we are all going to die young because we are so fat and our livers are pickled.
    You don't tend to see fat Alzheimers sufferers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    I wonder if this is mother natures way of naturally inhibiting our desire to increase longevity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    The drug companies are dragging their collective heels, why? Because they've not milked this fat cow enough! Just like big oil multinationals who hold the patents for alternative fueled vehicles etc......

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    my mother for many years was a nurse. she in later retirement developed alzhelmers .at the time with various cuts in services the children including myself did the best we could.when you see someone you love become a person you no longer recognise through no fault of their own it is heartbreaking.lets hope some cure can come along in time.we must always have hope.if not what have we really got?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    @113.ssurfer5963, why not just donate directly to the charity rather than pay extra tax, that way you know it wont get swallowed up into other budgets such as paying for non-essential cosmetic surgery.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Lowest rated comment no. 11 is correct in her comments. Dementia is not a bug that bites you and is not just age related else younger people would not contract it. Lifestyle is key, genetics less so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Donate pharmaceuticals Billions for their research and when they find something they charge the government £100's for each tablet. They take tax payer money - donations by the Billion and deliver nothing or drugs that only millionaires can afford. How often do MPs or Doctors get ill? (Think about it- when was the last time you heard of this?)

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    @33 is spot on.

    I'd be very happy to pay more tax so that:

    a) research into major issues such as dementia, cancer etc could be significantly increased, and

    b) funding to support people (including families and carers) affected is significantly increased.
    These are far more important than investing massively in projects so that a few people can get to London a bit quicker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Because so much more money and effort has gone into prolonging rather than improving life traumatic diseases like dementia are to be expected.

    Quality as well as quantity is essential.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Look to the sky at night - outer space, is vast & complex, inner space is no less vast or complex.

    The 2 million people research will greatly advance knowledge into dementia etc.

    Could be anything, polution, sugars, diet or even just that individuals have longer/less durability of electrical connections in brain, just as electrical consumer products have variances.

    Any progress takes time

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Another sad reminder that despite how technologically advanced we have become and luxurious our lifestyles are, we as a nation/world have forgotten about what really matters. Like many diseases, dementia doesn't discriminate and rich or poor suffer equally. Tonight's starting XI for England have an annual income of circa £100m, seems like our priorities have gone wondering off the moral compass!


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