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UK's prime minister announces plan to tackle dementia drug 'market failure'


The UK's prime minister has pledged a fresh drive to discover new drugs and treatments that could slow down the onset of dementia or even deliver a cure by 2025.

The UK's Department of Health said in an early Thursday statement David Cameron will tell a summit of world health and finance leaders in London immediate action is needed to address a "market failure" on dementia research and drug development.


Global spending on dementia is five times below research on cancer, with only three drugs making it to the market in the last 15 years, Cameron will say.


The UK will bring forward specific proposals on patent extensions, earlier access to new drugs for patients, greater research collaboration and facilitating much higher levels of investment by October this year.


The commitment comes as the world dementia envoy, Dr Dennis Gillings, warned that if global leaders do not incentivise businesses to invest in research and bring in faster, cheaper clinical trials, they will not meet the ambition to find a cure or disease modifying therapy by 2025.


The UK is doubling funding for dementia by 2015 and its Medical Research Council will announce at the same event the creation of the world's biggest study group for dementia, involving two million people. This is alongside a 100 million pounds (125 million euros) research pledge from Alzheimer's Research UK.


Gillings, working directly with the UK, will also commit to looking at ways of bringing forward a global fund that could draw billions in private and public investment specifically focussed on dementia.


Cameron will use a follow-up conference to last December's G8 Summit on Dementia to encourage leading nations to follow the UK's commitment.


He will hold talks with leaders in business, finance and pharmaceuticals to say that governments, business and the wider health sector must work together to accelerate progress on innovative drugs and treatments.


According to a statement, Cameron will say in his speech: "I know some people will say that it's not possible, but we have seen with cancer what medicine can achieve.


"We first need to tackle head on the market failure perilously undermining dementia research and drug development. And we need investment in research, greater collaboration, better incentives for taking new treatments to market and earlier access to innovative new treatments for patients."


The event in London is the first of four legacy events that follow the G8 Dementia Summit and experts will use the meeting to examine setting up a global fund that would allow new, innovative drugs to be developed faster.


In consultation with Gillings, the UK government will focus on ways to encourage investment in new dementia drugs by helping innovative research and development thrive.


Gillings will look at:
  • Giving patients earlier access to new drugs that would take years to become available in the current system
  • Working with manufacturers, regulators and developers to ensure there is a sliding scale that ensures new dementia medicines are affordable to countries across the globe
  • Working with the international community to discuss ways of creating a global fund to bring about new advances in drug development. 

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