FDA taking action against companies illegally selling products claiming to treat Alzheimer’s

The following is a statement by the Alzheimer’s Association, a partner of the DFW Hospital Council Foundation.

On behalf of millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, the Alzheimer’s Association welcomes action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to crack down on companies that are illegally selling products – mostly sold as dietary supplements – that claim to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease.

It is vital that federal agencies charged with consumer protection act quickly and decisively against dishonest businesses preying on individuals affected by this devastating disease.

In an article on its website, “Watch Out for False Promises About So-Called Alzheimer’s Cures,” the FDA says: “These products are a waste of money and may also delay consumers from receiving the necessary care and support for their illness.”

At its website at alz.org, the Alzheimer’s Association shares these concerns about alternative therapies:

Effectiveness and safety are unknown. The rigorous scientific research required by the FDA for the approval of a prescription drug is not required by law for the marketing of dietary supplements.

Purity is unknown. The FDA has no authority over supplement production. It is a manufacturer’s responsibility to develop and enforce its own guidelines for ensuring that its products are safe and contain the ingredients listed on the label in the specified amounts.

Dietary supplements can have serious interactions with prescribed medications. No one should take a supplement without first consulting a physician.

What’s needed as a counterbalance is good scientific research into better treatments and prevention strategies for those living with Alzheimer’s today and those at risk for dementia in the future.

This is an exciting time in Alzheimer’s research. Federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease research has quadrupled in the last few years (now $2.3 billion annually), due in large part to the focused and passionate action of Alzheimer’s Association advocates, through the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM).

These funds are being allocated to innovative studies to identify the causes of Alzheimer’s and other dementias – so therapies can target them directly, to enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis, and to support groundbreaking prevention trials.

The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the way in both funding and conducting cutting edge research. For example:

– The Alzheimer’s Association-funded U.S. POINTER Study is testing multi-component lifestyle interventions for protecting cognition and preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Part The Cloud, the Association’s collaboration with philanthropist Michaela (“Mikey”) Hoag, accelerates scientific progress in Alzheimer’s research by (1) funding the most promising early phase clinical trials, and (2) getting more diverse types of drugs into trials.

For those interested in advancing research by participating in clinical trials – and perhaps getting access to investigational therapies – the Alzheimer’s Association offers TrialMatch, a free, easy-to-use, online clinical trial matching service. Our continually updated database contains more than 250 studies, including both drug and non-drug studies being conducted at sites across the country and online.