Wednesday, January 10, 2018

So Pfizer Won't Be Funding Alzheimer's Drug Research Anymore? So What!

A column by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times says that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals is using money they're getting from the Trump-Republican Tax Cut to pay off their shareholders and end their involvement in Alzheimer's drug research. About 300 researchers will lose their jobs as the money is shunted to other projects. Hiltzik was criticizing them for this decision and I normally would agree with him!

But I used to work for the Alzheimer's Association and for a caregiver resource center supporting family members taking care of people with this disease and other dementia-causing illnesses. And, while I know all those wonderful people I used to support who are desperately praying for a drug-cure for this disease might be feeling horrifically devastated by this news right now, I think the end of this relationship might be worth celebrating!

Maybe now the REAL causes and cures for Alzheimer's Disease can be the focus of the Alzheimer's Association instead of looking for a drug cure. Yes, I said it, the REAL causes. My opinion, backed by a LOT of recent research, is that -- except for the genetic version of Alzheimer's which represents a very small % of those who get the disease -- the cause of Alzheimer's Disease and a lot of other types of dementia is almost definitely way too much sugar consumption (eventually crowding out any real nutrition), loneliness and depression. You can add in lack of exercise for those who actually have vascular dementia (you can't get a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease without an autopsy). And we have known about some of these factors for at least a decade!

We need a societal cure, not a drug cure. And I believe that is one of the reasons Pfizer is withdrawing their research dollars. If the research continues to support the idea that diet and depression are the biggest factors, there's no point in Pfizer continuing their drug-cure based investment. They already make symptom-covering drugs! All the literature, videos and slide shows that Pfizer used to give to the Alzheimer's Association came with "info" about Aricept or whatever other drug they were promoting at the time. In return, the Alzheimer's Association put almost all their efforts into raising money for drug cure research. 

As far as I'm concerned, it's just fine for this symbiotic relationship to end. Have them put the money where it counts.