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Greenwood Highlights Need for Bold Action to Address Alzheimer's

August 4, 2014
Last week, Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), participated and spoke at the #C4CT (Coalition for Concussion Treatment) Concussion Awareness Summit hosted at the United Nations in New York City.

The day-long event explored links between Traumatic Brain Injury and Alzheimer’s Disease and featured leading policy experts, biotechnology entrepreneurs, academics,  investment firms, medical researchers, diplomats and professional athletes. The event was hosted by Brewer Sports International (BSI), a multi-faceted global sports advisory firm, andAmarantus BioScience Holdings, Inc.

Greenwood, who while in Congress wrote the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996, gave opening remarks at the event and participated on a panel on public policy issues. In his comments, Greenwood spoke about the need for big, bold actions and strong policy to address the growing public health challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia—and to ensure that more medical innovations can make it from the lab bench to the patients who need them most.

“The reality is that no matter how good your science is and no matter how skillful the entrepreneurs involved in running the companies trying to develop these products are…in the absence of a strong policy environment, you simply can’t succeed,” Greenwood said. “That means funding basic research at NIH. It means policies that drive technology transfer from the academic community into start-ups and it means appropriate tax policy. It means supporting and incubating start-up companies and getting them through the valley of death. It means the right regulatory policies at FDA, the protection of intellectual property and adequate reimbursement. All of these policies have to be right to attract investment into our industry.”

To strengthen the policy environment, Greenwood highlighted an important opportunity in Congress, called the 21st Century Cures Initiative, being led by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Congresswoman Diana DeGette. The 21st Century Cures Initiative is focused on improving the discovery, development and delivery of new cures and therapies.

Since 1998, there have been more than 100 unsuccessful attempts to develop Alzheimer’s drugs. In fact, today there are only five drugs available to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and the last one was approved over a decade ago.

With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on failed clinical trials, Greenwood also talked about the need to develop a comprehensive, long-term, longitudinal research effort modeled after the successful Framingham study that helped to revolutionize therapies for cardiovascular disease.  The study could complement and build on the National Alzheimer’s Project Act and the National AD Plan and other important work and partnerships in this area.

A study of this nature would allow researchers to gather the large amounts of data they need to discover the correlations between biomarkers for early detection and the patients that ultimately develop dementia. That information could speed the development of innovative new drugs and allow researchers to better understand the link between concussions and Alzheimer’s. It also would allow for the collection and analysis of vast amounts of research from past clinical trials, insurance provider data, patient groups studies and NIH research.