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How the Dementia Access Taskforce is breaking through barriers for future treatments

Melody Paton Borchardt

It’s a year today since Alzheimer’s Research UK launched the Dementia Access Taskforce.

The first-of-its-kind partnership brings together charities, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, government and people impacted by dementia. The group works to ensure early and accurate diagnosis is available and to prepare so future treatments reach people quickly.

Last year, we looked at the challenges future treatments for dementia might face in getting to people who need them.

These include:

  • the potential cost
  • the number of people with dementia
  • the resources needed for people to access a new treatment on the NHS.

We found that we needed to start working urgently to ensure these challenges don’t delay any future treatments.

That’s where the Dementia Access Taskforce comes in.

Over the last year, the group has identified possible barriers for future treatments and created a plan to develop solutions.

The group has three main areas of focus:

  1. Earlier and accurate diagnosis.

    The taskforce plans to measure and better understand the way the public and health professionals currently view diagnosis.

    With this knowledge, the taskforce can begin to increase awareness about around the benefits of early and accurate diagnosis.

    Why is this important? We know future treatments are likely to be most effective if given at the earliest stages of disease.

    Right now, we diagnose dementia after symptoms appear. We must start today to diagnose people with diseases like Alzheimer’s sooner so treatments can have the most benefit.

  2. Cost of treatments and how to measure their value.

    There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Treating even a portion of these individuals will likely come at a high cost to the NHS.

    In addition to cost, it’s important to understand the potential value of a treatment. This is where things can get tricky.

    The taskforce has brought together pharmaceutical companies and government to develop creative approaches to this problem.

    People with dementia might value treatment benefits differently depending on their symptoms and the activities most important to them.

    That’s why Alzheimer’s Research UK is working to understand more about what people want from future treatments. The taskforce will use this work to help evaluate the way the health system currently values new treatments.

  3. Impact on the health system.

    When a new treatment becomes available, the NHS will need to adapt to get it to the right people at the right time. This will likely include changing how and when dementia is diagnosed.

    The taskforce is looking at the potential tools and staff the NHS would need to deliver future treatments to people with dementia, so we can plan ahead.

We know there are several dementia treatments currently in the final stages of testing that might prove to be effective. That means there’s a window of opportunity now to create solutions to get successful treatments to people with dementia quickly.

The Dementia Access Taskforce is committed to making this goal a reality.

We’ll keep bringing you the latest updates on the exciting work this group is doing. In the meantime, you can read more about the taskforce here.

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