PM: Dementia drug R&D “not good enough”

Prime minister David Cameron will declare today that more must be done to allow patients early access to new dementia drugs, calling the current pace of drug development “not good enough”.

As part of a drive to eradicate the illness within 11 years, David Cameron will tell the pharmaceutical industry that immediate action is needed to address a “market failure” on dementia research and drug development. 

In a bid to speed up access to new dementia drugs, regulations around clinical trials will be loosened to make it easier for patients with terminal conditions to volunteer for trials of the latest treatments. A similar strategy was used for the development of drugs to treat HIV and AIDS. Patents on new drugs will also be extended, making it more profitable for pharma companies to invest in R&D and sell the new drugs.

The prime minister is calling for public spending on dementia drug research to double from £66 million to £122 million in 2015 and he will urge leaders of other advanced nations to match the UK’s commitment.  

Mr Cameron hopes that the UK-led campaign to stimulate global research on dementia will help to hold back the onset of the disease by 2025 or could even deliver a cure. This follows the G8 last year, where the UK used its presidency to host an international summit on dementia.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts that the numbers of dementia suffers will double worldwide every 20 years. Investment in dementia treatment is however five times lower the spend on cancer. Just three new dementia drugs have made it to market in the past 15 years.

Speaking at the Global Dementia Legacy Event, Mr Cameron will say: “We need investment in research, greater collaboration, better incentives for taking new treatments to market and earlier access to innovative new treatments…it will take years of work but we have shown with other diseases that we can make progress and we will do so again.”