HHS to Boost Alzheimer's Research Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Obama administration plans to increase federal funding for Alzheimer's disease research and caregiver support by more than 25 percent over the next two years, the Department of Health and Human Services announced today.

The decision will provide $156 million in added funds through 2013 if authorized by Congress. The National Institutes of Health already spend $450 million in research of the condition.

Congressional approval will not be required for part of the measure: $50 million for research will be released immediately to NIH as part of the White House's "We Can't Wait" initiative. An additional $80 million will be allotted in the government's 2013 budget proposal.

The remaining $26 million will be allocated to goals outside pure research, including public awareness and support for caregivers. According to government statistics, more than 5 million Americans suffer from the condition. At the National Press Club this morning, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that because of the aging of the U.S. population, the number of patients could double by 2050.

"We cannot wait to confront the growing threat that Alzheimer's disease poses to American families and our nation as a whole," she said.

Tim Armour of the Cure Alzheimer's Fund echoed the sentiment, pointing out that Baby Boomers are now entering the age of highest risk.

"Alzheimer's threatens to bankrupt our healthcare system, affect the quality of care provided to patients, and mature into one of the worst healthcare crises our nation has ever seen," Armour said.

The move comes on the heels of the National Alzheimer's Project Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in January. The order called for a more focused and coordinated plan for research and prevention of the disease.