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European countries unprepared for Alzheimer's innovations, study shows

Published on 01/10/18 at 11:31am

European healthcare systems are not prepared for new developments in preventative therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, according to research conducted by the American non-profit think tank, the RAND Corporation.

While it is believed that Alzheimer’s disease is not curable, current hypotheses pose that the neurodegenerative condition may be prevented. There are currently therapies in development with this aim in mind.

However for these therapies to be effective there would need to be widespread screening for symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and testing for early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The RAND Corporation estimate that approximately 20 million people over the age of 55, living in EU 27 countries have MCI. However the majority of those people have not been tested for the condition.

Thus if a preventative therapy were to be approved, it is believed that European countries would not be prepared and would thus not be able to quickly and effectively prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s from MCI.

The research looked at six European countries – France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain – and recommends that these countries implement measures aimed at improving wait times, increasing innovation in diagnosis and expanding capacity to ensure that treatment is effective for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Significantly the research suggests that current capacity constraints could lead to 1 million cases of unnecessary progression of MCI to Alzheimer’s between 2020 and 2050.

Meanwhile current projected wait times vary from five months in Germany to 19 months in France. However patients may have to wait years before there are no wait times at all. While the first year without wait times could be in 2030 in Germany, the first year without wait times might be 2042 in the United Kingdom and 2044 in Spain.

Louis Goss

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