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Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5.5 million people in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s is also the sixth leading cause of death among Americans.In an unexpected blow to those living with the disease and their families, Pfizer Inc. pulls the plug on their drug research program aimed toward finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Pfizer Announces End of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Research

The U.S. pharmaceutical company made the announcement over the weekend, sending waves of desperation through the Alzheimer and Parkinson’s community. Finding a cure or at the very least a treatment drug for these diseases could have a huge impact on families, loved one’s with the disease, and the economy.

On average, the disease costs the nation $172 billion annually with nearly 11 million unpaid caregivers helping those with the disease. In fact, the overall research investment by the National Health Institute is only $480 million. That is a fraction of the $4 billion spent on heart disease research.

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Elimination of Neuroscience Jobs

The announcement to abandon Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research also came with a loss of neuroscience jobs. These position shifts will affect those in the Pfizer Massachusetts and Connecticut offices. The money will then be used elsewhere the announcement explained.

Pfizer said that, “This was an exercise to re-allocate spend across our portfolio, to focus on those areas where our pipeline, and our scientific expertise, is strongest.”

What Can Families of Alzheimer’s Loved Ones Do?

The cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s may not be around the corner anytime soon, but it is important to remain hopeful. The blow to research by Pfizer is a definite setback in the disease’s research. However, the bigger issue is the lack of overall funding for a serious health issue that causes the sixth most deaths in the United States.