First, launch an Operation Warp Speed for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In the race to fight COVID-19, regulators cut red tape allowing pharmaceutical companies, the NIH and FDA to closely collaborate in an unparalleled way. By providing billions of dollars for development, production and distribution of vaccines, the government was able to incentivize participation in this important public-private partnership. Leveraging this model to combat Alzheimer’s will be critical – especially as the disease is unlikely to be solved with a simple vaccine. Just like in the fight against many forms of cancer and HIV/AIDS, incremental innovations must build on each other to deliver better treatments – as we strive toward a cure – step by step. As a recent editorial in Lancet Neurology put it, “regulators must find a way to allow access to potentially life-extending therapies while both scientific rigor and the safety of patients are maintained.”
The goal is to get treatments to patients who desperately need them. If a promising therapy is safe, patients deserve access. The suffering of millions of Americans cannot wait for a “best-in-class” breakthrough; they need “first-in-class” treatments that spark new innovations and draw greater resources and scientific attention to the cause.