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TACRINE APPROVAL HIGHLIGHTS BENEFITS OF AGING RESEARCH

 WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The first federal approval of a drug to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today, is "a timely reminder of why health care reform efforts should strive to foster still more breakthroughs from medical research," according to a spokesman for the Alliance for Aging Research.
 The FDA announcement that the drug tacrine, or THA, has been cleared for marketing to people who suffer mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease was praised by Daniel Perry, executive director of the leading non- profit group promoting research into age-related diseases.
 "Yesterday all we could offer Alzheimer's victims and their families was sympathy and hand-holding," Perry said. "The FDA's decision now will make available the means to reduce at least some of the disability and impact of this devastating disease among some of its victims," he added.
 Any significant lowering of the need for long term care that may come from tacrine and still newer drugs to come "will have profound benefits for a health care system strained to its limits," according to Perry.
 "That's just one good reason why Congress and the Clinton administration in their health reform efforts must encourage and accelerate medical research in universities, in government laboratories and by the private sector," he said.
 Last week the Alliance for Aging Research and 66 other national aging and health organizations signed a joint statement urging Congress to make support for biomedical research a key objective of national health reform.
 The groups, which included advocates for research in Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart disease and others, noted that the first Clinton budget would result in reduced funding for the National Institutes of Health, the nation's principal source of biomedical research.
 The drug now approved by the FDA has been shown in two large clinical trials to improve cognitive performance and the ability to perform many activities of daily living, making it an important therapeutic advance for some patients with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.
 It is estimated that as many as 4 million Americans may be affected by Alzheimer's disease and that the national cost of the disease exceeds $90 billion a year. The current average cost of care for each patient affected by Alzheimer's disease is estimated at $44,000 per year.
 -0- 9/9/93
 /CONTACT: Stacey Hocheiser or Anne Chun, both of the Alliance for Aging Research, 202-293-2856/


CO: Alliance for Aging Research ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU: EXE

IH-KD -- DC026 -- 0540 09/09/93 17:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 9, 1993
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