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Unraveling the Mystery of Alzheimer’s Disease

July 17, 2013
Preeminent researchers from around the world gathered recently to tackle the science behind one of medicine’s toughest problems - Alzheimer’s - and elevating the disease as a top global priority. The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi) - a coalition of corporations from the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, finance, and healthcare - hosted a dinner during the Alzheimer’s Association International Convention (AAIC) in Boston.

The CEOi had already taken strides to achieve this goal. In March, at the joint conference of the Irish Council Presidency and the European Parliament, the CEOi called for the development of a global action plan to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025. At this conference, George Vradenburg of U.S. Against Alzheimer’s stated, “Even as governments are stepping up to address this global challenge, political leaders have recognized that collaboration with industry plays a critical role in bringing more time, attention, investment and commitment to stop the crippling consequences of this exploding health and economic burden.”

Governments are stepping up indeed. In May, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that during the UK’s presidency of the G8, Alzheimer’s will be a priority and global collaboration will be a top goal. In June, CEOi members met with UK leadership to discuss how the G8 effort becomes a launch pad for a sustained, global commitment to Alzheimer’s.

While the CEOi met in Boston, George Vradenburg spoke on the pressing need for more coordinated action. The group learned how the U.S. National Alzheimer’s Plan was developing and about recent and ongoing activity in the EU. More generally, CEOi members discussed the recent emergence of G8/UK leadership and the opportunities it presents. The discussion consistently reiterated the need for continued development of national and regional Alzheimer’s strategic plans, as well as the urgent need for a global strategy.

The CEOi event, hosted alongside the AAIC conference, marks the next stage in the organization’s ongoing efforts to drive innovation in the discovery and development of new treatments, diagnostic tools, care practices, and practices to generate patient engagement.  The CEOi’s members are AC Immune, Bank of America, Banner Health, Eli Lilly, GE Healthcare, Janssen Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy (a division of Johnson & Johnson), Merck (known as MSD outside the U.S.), Nestlé, Pfizer, and Sanofi.

Drew Holzapfel is the Executive Director of the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease.