Andrew Wright, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Vice President, Digital Platform

We need help: we want to work with you to develop practical, implementable solutions that can go to market and help patients and caregivers who are battling Alzheimer’s disease. At the Consumer Electronics Show, we are hosting a panel to “Disrupt Alzheimer’s.” Our goal is to teach innovators the problems and unmet needs of Alzheimer’s, and we want to invite you to submit your ideas to us. With a few select innovators, we hope to work with you to bring your idea to the Alzheimer’s community.

The need for tech to “disrupt Alzheimer’s” is critical. Over the past few decades, an odd paradox has emerged in our world: while fantastic, jaw-dropping technologies create a veritable wonderland of new possibilities, there is an unprecedented portion of the American and global population growing old. Life spans that have for the history of humankind been unimaginable, today they are the norm.

Just as drones and the Internet of Things were the stuff of science fiction a half-century ago, so too were centenarians – or humans who lived to put 100 candles on their birthday cakes. Today, this age group is the world’s fastest growing.

[1]

This “miracle of longevity” gives us much to celebrate, but it also comes with hard challenges. There is perhaps no asterisk on this miracle more solemn than Alzheimer’s disease.

For this terrible disease, there is no cure. There are no ways to slow it down. It can’t be prevented. And the damage it wreaks on families and friends is truly devastating. There are already 46.8 million people with dementia, and a new case occurs every 3.2 seconds.[2]

It’s time for technology to step in – and to do for Alzheimer’s what it has done for shopping, sharing, investing, and so many other facets of 21st century life. If we truly want technology to improve lives, it’s time to disrupt Alzheimer’s.

No truly novel Alzheimer’s drug has entered the market since 2003.[3] Amazingly, over a ten-year period, 99.6% of all Alzheimer’s drugs to enter clinical trials failed to win approval.[4] So while a “cure” or prevention remains the goal, we need to fill the gap now.

Enter tech. There is a growing consensus among Alzheimer’s experts – as well as those with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers, nurses, care providers, etc. – that tech can transform care.[5] Technology – with its boundless agility and bold thinking – can intervene and dramatically improve lives.

Yet this potential is unrealized.

One of the greatest barriers to unlocking this partnership between tech and the Alzheimer’s community is a lack of true understanding. Tech experts don’t sufficiently understand what the disease is and what problems they can solve for patients and caregivers; and the Alzheimer’s community hasn’t sufficiently explained what it needs.

Join us. And help us bridge this gap.

Financially, the need is enormous. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the U.S. in direct healthcare expenditures, at $109 billion per year.[6] Even worse, it far outstrips other diseases in informal care costs, bringing the total to roughly $215 billion.[7] And these numbers will only grow. The population of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to double every twenty years.[8]

From a medical perspective, there is still a lot of work to do. Science and industry are doing everything they can, but Alzheimer’s is an extremely complex disease. A comparison to oncology highlights why: in cancer, you need a medicine to kill cells; in Alzheimer’s you need a medicine to keep cells alive. This is no easy feat.

That’s why we’re convening leaders from tech and Alzheimer’s at CES 2016. At our panel, Disrupting Alzheimer’s, we hope enable mutual understanding and inspire the development of new technology for those with Alzheimer’s. Joining us will be three of the most important, influential voices from the Alzheimer’s community. Their goal is to help tech innovators understand the needs of millions of people affected by this terrible disease.

We welcome discussing any and all tech ideas at any stage of development; financial and ownership terms are negotiable.

We hope you can join us. Now is the time to disrupt Alzheimer’s.

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[1] National Institute on Aging: “Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/publication/why-population-aging-matters-global-perspective/trend-3-rising-numbers-oldest-old
[2] Alzheimer’s Disease International: “Dementia statistics.” http://www.alz.co.uk/research/statistics
[3] Cummings et al.: “Alzheimer’s disease drug-development pipeline: few candidates, frequent failures.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4095696/
[4] Ibid.
[5] Alzheimer’s Society: Assistive technology – devices to help with everyday living. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=109
[6] Rand Corporation: The Monetary Costs of Dementia in the United States. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/testimonies/CT400/CT406/RAND_CT406.pdf
[7] Rand Corporation: The Monetary Costs of Dementia in the United States. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/testimonies/CT400/CT406/RAND_CT406.pdf
[8] Alzheimer’s Disease International: “Dementia statistics.” http://www.alz.co.uk/research/statistics