June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.(Press Release)- During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June, the Alzheimer’s Association South Dakota is hosting the Rally for Access to Alzheimer’s Treatment in Fawick Park on Sunday, June 11. The rally is one of 50 state rallies taking place this month, urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to change its policy, preventing those with early-stage Alzheimer’s from accessing FDA-approved treatments.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that each day without access to FDA-approved treatments, more than 2,000 individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s transition to a more advanced stage of the disease where they are no longer eligible for treatment.

“For people like me, right now there are medicines that may help, but most of us can’t afford them. The fact that these are the only FDA-approved medicines that the CMS refuses to cover is unfair and cruel,” said Jack Mortenson, of Sioux Falls, who is living with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Currently, there are two FDA-approved treatments for early-stage Alzheimer’s, including mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease. Both approved treatments — and a third treatment, seeking FDA-approval — have been shown to slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease during the earliest stages of the disease.

Access to these treatments, however, remains severely hampered by an unprecedented CMS decision not to cover payment for the drugs without patients enrolling in additional clinical trials. Currently, Medicare covers all FDA-approved drugs with the glaring exception of the two Alzheimer’s treatments.

“The Alzheimer’s Association has been leading the way in calling on CMS to reverse its unprecedented and unjust policy,” said Leslie Morrow, State Executive Director. “Now, we are inviting South Dakotans to join us and add their voices to our call. People living with Alzheimer’s are counting on us to get this decision reversed.”

Since the initial CMS decision in April 2021, the Alzheimer’s Association has urged CMS to reverse course. A rally outside the White House in March attracted nearly 900 supporters. Just last month, the Alzheimer’s Association conducted similar rallies outside 10 regional CMS offices and the Health and Human Services office in Washington D.C., bringing together thousands of volunteers impacted by the decision.

The 50 state rallies during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month will build on the momentum of previous rallies and growing public sentiment to make the Alzheimer’s treatments accessible. The rallies will bring together people living with Alzheimer’s directly affected by the CMS decision, as well as their caregivers, families, Alzheimer’s volunteers and the public.

Individuals interested in attending South Dakota’s Rally for Access to Alzheimer’s Treatment can register here at alz.org/sd.

In addition, the Alzheimer’s Association invites South Dakotans to sign this online petition urging coverage of FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments now. To date, the petition has generated more than 27,000 signatures.

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — a leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In South Dakota there are more than 18,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and more than 26,000 family members and friends caring for them.