Open Letter from Dr. Jan Lundberg, Executive Vice President, Science and Technology, and President, Lilly Research Laboratories (Lilly R&D)
Dear G8 Dementia Summit Delegates,
Every once in a while an opportunity comes along too important to miss that has the ability to make a real, positive and global impact. Next week, such an opportunity will be presented at the G8 dementia summit in London. We, at Lilly, believe this is a unique chance to develop a collective response to addressing the universal devastation brought on by dementia.
Dementia is one of society's biggest health challenges, not only with the huge personal suffering and fear it creates in both the patient and caregiver, but also, as you are aware, with the enormous present and future economic burden it presents to all of society. Like a tornado, it envelops so many, with dreadful consequences for those living with and in proximity to the disease. Working closely with a variety of stakeholders, including yourselves, we are looking to eradicate the barriers that are standing in the way of us doing what we do best as a pharmaceutical company, making life better for people around the world.
Reports suggest there are currently over 35 million people worldwide living with dementia, and by 2030 that figure will almost double. The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia was US$604 billion in 2010, and as populations grow and age the pressure on services and budgets will only increase.
The upcoming G8 summit, hosted by the UK Government, provides a rare opportunity for world leaders to commit to working together, and with a broad set of stakeholders, to tackle this global health challenge. Treating dementia is a complex undertaking requiring all stakeholders to take a 'wide lens' view rather than just focusing on the aspects of care and funding that fall within direct spans of control.
There are around 3,500 researchers working on dementia in the UK, compared with 24,000 on cancer. In the US the numbers are around 18,000 and 110,000 respectively. Currently the US Government spends $6bn per year on cancer research, compared with $480m on dementia research. Similarly, in the UK, the government spends £590m per year on cancer research, compared with £50m on dementia research. Both cancer and dementia are devastating diseases, neither one more important than the other. However, we need each of the G8 Governments to pledge to help close that gap, and help fund the basic and translational research that will lead to treatments that delay progression of dementia and eventual cures.
At the summit, we would like to see G8 Governments commit to invest in dementia research for the long-term, to allow for the predictability and stability we know is required for scientists to truly innovate.
2013 marks the 25th year of Lilly's research and development in Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. It accounts for 60 to 70 percent of all cases. We are proud of the steps we have made in contributing to a better understanding of the disease. We are currently the only large pharmaceutical company conducting research in the UK along all the research and development value chain both preclinical and clinical.
The quality of research output is extremely high, but we must turn up the volume. To do so, the G8 Governments must fund more academic activity in this field, and facilitate more platforms for academia and industry to collaborate.
In addition to improving the environment for research, opportunities should also be found to streamline regulatory processes for new dementia treatments. We would also like to see health technology assessment processes consider all the benefits new treatments may provide for healthcare systems and social care, as well as patients and their caregivers. Finally, further work is needed to ensure treatment pathways are developed to support the speedy access of new discoveries by those patients most likely to benefit from them.
Together we are stronger. We stand ready to do our part.