CHICAGO, June 1, 2023
- Rallies will call on CMS to change unfair and discriminatory policy blocking access to FDA-approved treatments for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s
- Alzheimer’s treatments are the only FDA-approved treatments not covered by Medicare
- June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
— During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June, the Alzheimer’s Association is ramping up its efforts in making FDA-approved treatments for early-stage Alzheimer’s accessible to all who can benefit. The Association is conducting rallies in all 50 states this month, urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to change its policy, which prevents those with early-stage Alzheimer’s from accessing treatments.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that each day without access to FDA-approved treatments, more than 2,000 individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s transition to a more advanced stage of the disease where they are no longer eligible for treatment.
“People living with early-stage Alzheimer’s cannot afford to wait. They deserve FDA-approved treatments now while they can still slow progression and allow us to live independently for a longer time,” said Lori Weiss, 65, of Portland, Ore., who was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. “It’s unfair and discriminatory how CMS is treating people living with Alzheimer’s.”
Currently, there are two FDA-approved treatments for early-stage Alzheimer’s, including mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease. Both approved treatments — and a third treatment, seeking FDA-approval — have been shown to slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease during the earliest stages of the disease.
Access to these treatments, however, remains severely hampered by an unprecedented CMS decision not to cover payment for the drugs without patients enrolling in additional clinical trials. Currently, Medicare covers all FDA-approved drugs with the glaring exception of the two Alzheimer’s treatments.
“We need to listen to people living with the disease. They deserve the right to access FDA-approved treatments now, while they still can, if they and their doctor decide it is right for them,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association chief public policy officer. “There’s a groundswell of support for CMS to reverse its decision — from bipartisan members of Congress to 26 attorneys general to physicians and scientists and patients and families. The CMS policy is wrong and must be reversed.”
Since the initial CMS decision in April 2021, the Alzheimer’s Association has urged CMS to reverse course. A rally outside the White House in March attracted nearly 900 supporters. Just last month, the Alzheimer’s Association conducted similar rallies outside 10 regional CMS offices and the Health and Human Services office in Washington, D.C., bringing together thousands of volunteers impacted by the decision.
The 50 state rallies during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month will build on the momentum of previous rallies and growing public sentiment to make the Alzheimer’s treatments accessible. The rallies will bring together people living with Alzheimer’s directly affected by the CMS decision, as well as their caregivers, families, Alzheimer’s volunteers and the public.
In addition to participating in these rallies, the Alzheimer’s Association is inviting all Americans to sign this online petition
to cover FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments now. To date, the petition has generated more than 20,000 signatures.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease — a leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
About Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
Established by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2014, Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month is dedicated to encouraging a global conversation about the brain and Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, available resources and how you can get involved to support the cause, visit alz.org/abam.
Fight the Darkness of Alzheimer’s on the Day with the Most Light, The Longest Day — June 21
During June, the Alzheimer’s Association is also inviting people across the world to participate in The Longest Day® on June 21. Held annually on the summer solstice, The Longest Day invites participants to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice.
Throughout the month and culminating on June 21, Longest Day participants will bake, bike, hike, golf, knit, play bridge and participate in other favorite activities to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. For more information and to register, visit alz.org/thelongestday.
About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia®. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.