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Experts Urge Family Members and Friends to Seek Immediate Intervention for Their Loved Ones Who May Have Alzheimer's Disease (AD)
Date:5/12/2009

New Online Resource, YouCanBeTheOne.com, Recommended to Help Guide Important Conversations and Get Families Closer to an Accurate Diagnosis

NEW YORK, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The multi-disciplinary expert consortium known as the Alzheimer's Disease Screening Discussion Group (ADSDG) is calling upon family and friends to proactively start a dialogue with loved ones, the potential patient and a physician at the first sign of possible Alzheimer's disease (AD) symptoms. The goal of the call-to-action is to help patients secure a diagnosis in the early stages of the disease and begin proper treatment to slow symptom progression. Addressing AD early can help keep the family connected longer and provide time to plan for the future, both financially and emotionally. This initiative was developed on the heels of the ADSDG's 2008 national U.S. survey reporting that too many family members and friends do not take action even when signs of AD are suspected. The ADSDG is sponsored by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

Currently only 60 percent of AD patients are diagnosed, and of those, only half receive treatment to slow the progression of symptoms. The ADSDG has identified the top five barriers that delay family and friends from addressing AD symptoms until the disease is in its later stages:

  • Fear of scaring or offending the patient
  • Inaccurate notion that effective medical treatments do not exist
  • Unwillingness or inability to assume caregiver role and responsibilities
  • Disagreement among family members and/or friends about confronting the patient
  • Cultural differences and language barriers that may delay minority groups from seeking prompt diagnosis and treatment

Given these barriers and the escalating number of people with AD - an additional half million people may be diagnosed in the next year, raising the total to nearly six million AD patients in the U.S. - Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc worked with the ADSDG on the development of a new educational Web site, YouCanBeTheOne.com. The new Web site provides tips for discussing AD with family, the potential patient, and a physician, and outlines information to help families understand how the disease may impact them as it progresses. A few of the tools offered on the site include a symptom screener and tracker, and a "clock draw" test.* These tools may provide clarity for family members who have observed potential AD symptoms in a loved one and help them share what they have been seeing with a doctor.

"It's an overwhelming experience to recognize the presence of AD in your loved one, but it's even more challenging when the responsibility falls upon you to speak up and take action," said Dr. Paul Solomon, professor, department of psychology and program in neuroscience, Williams College; clinical director, The Memory Clinic in Bennington, VT; and member of the ADSDG. "The online guide can help family and friends better navigate this emotional process to bring about a timely diagnosis and treatment plan for the loved one."

Janet Farr, an ADSDG member, was the primary caregiver for her husband, Herb, who died in 2007 after living with AD for 14 years. For Janet and Herb, having a medical diagnosis for the changes they had seen in Herb's memory and behavior was a relief, but other family members didn't have the same reaction. "Some family members were reluctant to discuss or accept the AD diagnosis, and that made the process more difficult," said Janet. "A resource like YouCanBeTheOne.com would have been helpful in guiding those conversations, and I hope others going through similar situations can use the Web site to get the support they need."

Having these important discussions with doctors and family members may also help adults more confidently ease into a new role as caregiver. When AD is diagnosed early, caregivers have more time to plan for the future, including getting financial and legal documents in order, investigating long-term care options, and determining what services are covered by health insurance and Medicare.

Gail Hunt, president and CEO, National Alliance for Caregiving; and member of the ADSDG, said, "Getting an initial AD diagnosis can be distressing, but for a caregiver, the journey has only begun. The use of the online tools can help people continue conversations with friends and family to seek support, with doctors to track the progression of the disease, and with the advocacy community to access local resources."

About the Alzheimer's Disease Screening Discussion Group (ADSDG)

The ADSDG is a multi-disciplinary panel of experts sponsored by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc that first convened in November 2007 to debate the value of early AD detection and routine screening. In 2008, the group commissioned the U.S. national survey, "Alzheimer's Disease: Current Attitudes, Perceptions and Knowledge." ADSDG members include:

  • Dr. Paul R. Solomon, professor, department of psychology and program in neuroscience, Williams College, MA; clinical director, The Memory Clinic, Bennington, VT
  • Dr. Richard Stefanacci, founding executive director, Institute for Geriatric Studies, Mayes College of Healthcare Business & Policy, University of the Sciences
  • Dr. Barry W. Rovner, director, clinical Alzheimer's disease research at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences, and professor of psychiatry and neurology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia
  • Dr. Yanira Cruz, president and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging
  • Gail Hunt, president and CEO, National Alliance for Caregiving
  • Janet Farr, Alzheimer's disease Caregiver

About Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting more than five million Americans. Symptoms of AD may include increased forgetfulness, repeating or asking the same question frequently, and problems making decisions. These symptoms gradually affect a person's cognition, behavior and everyday activities, some severe enough to have an impact on their work, social activities and family life. While there is no cure for AD, there are treatments to help slow the progression of the symptoms of the disease. The disease disproportionately affects Hispanics and African Americans as they are at higher risk than Caucasians for developing the disease, and often go undiagnosed and untreated for longer periods of time.

About Eisai Inc.

Eisai Inc. is a U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Eisai Co., Ltd., a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Eisai focuses its efforts in three therapeutic areas: neurology, gastrointestinal disorders and oncology/critical care. Established in 1995 and ranked among the top-20 U.S. pharmaceutical companies (based on retail sales), Eisai Inc. began marketing its first product in the United States in 1997 and has rapidly grown to become an integrated pharmaceutical business with fiscal year 2007 (year ended March 31, 2008) sales of approximately $3 billion, including the results of the acquisition of MGI PHARMA, Inc.

Eisai Inc. employs approximately 1,900 people at its headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, at its state-of-the-art pharmaceutical production and formulation research and development facility in Research Triangle Park, NC, and in the field. For more information about Eisai, please visit www.eisai.com.

About Pfizer Inc

Founded in 1849, Pfizer is the world's premier biopharmaceutical company taking new approaches to better health. We discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. We also partner with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality health care and health system support. At Pfizer, more than 80,000 colleagues in more than 90 countries work every day to help people stay happier and healthier longer and to reduce the human and economic burden of disease worldwide.

*These are not self-diagnostic tools, but can be used to help identify whether a memory problem might exist, and may be useful in discussions with friends, family and doctors. Only a doctor can diagnose AD or any type of dementia.


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SOURCE Eisai Inc.; Pfizer Inc
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