Giant Pharmaceutical Companies Abandon Research on Alzheimer’s Disease, Leaving Millions Without Hope
Image Pfizer World Headquarters

Giant Pharmaceutical Companies Abandon Research on Alzheimer’s Disease, Leaving Millions Without Hope

For years now, those suffering from Alzheimer’s, their families and their caregivers have been holding their collective breaths awaiting announcements by big pharma of a breakthrough on major research and development to find a cure for dementia. Today, more than 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to rise exponentially in the years ahead as the population continues to age. In fact, the number suffering today from Alzheimer’s in the United States has been grossly underestimated by a failure to account for the disease’s deadly impact not only on those with the disease, but on caregivers, usually spouses. All too often, unfortunately, Alzheimer kills two people as it runs its horrible and slow course – the patient and the spouse.

And so, it’s not only those suffering from or connected to the disease that have been waiting for years for a pharmaceutical breakthrough, but also big pharma itself where huge resources for research and development to find a cure have been invested in the hope of reaping huge returns. The first pharmaceutical company to find a cure for this devastating disease would see enormous profits from the new drug.

Only days ago, however, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer, with one of the largest research programs engaged in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, announced that it was closing down its program entirely and abandoning all efforts to identify a drug to cure the disease. And, it was not alone. Merck and Lilly also did the same recently. In spite of investing huge sums in the search for a cure, all efforts by all players have failed.

Imagine, if you will, the impact of such news on those with the disease and their caregivers. I cannot think of any news more devastating today for patients and families. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been and is today, a death sentence. Until today, however, those with the disease have at least been able to hold out the hope that a cure would be found and their lives spared.

Americans are largely optimists, even those facing extraordinary challenges. Today, however, those afflicted with Alzheimer’s are totally left out in the cold. For the foreseeable future, and certainly during the lives of those with the disease, no one will be able to hold out hope that a cure will be found during their lifetime. It leaves them, very simply, doubly hopeless.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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