Gov. DeSantis highlights $12M in new funding to fight Alzheimer’s disease

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference at a Jacksonville assisted living facility. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 500,000 Floridians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

On Monday, at an assisted living facility in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis touted a $12 million increase in the state’s budget to go toward addressing the devastating illness that affects memory and other mental functions, bringing the state’s total commitment to more than $51 million.

“Some of the most difficult health conditions that impact many seniors are Alzheimer’s and dementia and as more innovative early intervention therapies are developed to mitigate the effects and severity of these conditions, awareness of the initial signs and symptoms are increasingly important,” DeSantis said during a news conference at The Windsor at San Pablo. “Our strong financial commitment of $51 million allows Florida to prioritize the advancement of research and support needed for this disease.”

DeSantis said the funding includes an additional $6.7 million to support the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative, which will allow approximately 700 people and their families to receive supportive care and respite services.

The budget continues to include $5 million that can be used to award grants for research relating to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease at the Mayo Clinic.

During the news conference, Michelle Branham, Vice President of Public Policy at the Alzheimer’s Association of Florida, also addressed the recent conditional approval of Aduhelm (aducanumab) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

The surprise approval of the Biogen drug has been highly criticized with some saying its $56,000 price tag is too expensive and doubts over whether it actually helps with cognitive decline.

“We consider Biogen’s aducanumab a celebratory time of victory in the world of Alzheimer’s disease,” Branham said. “I know that it has had some controversy, but truly, as an Alzheimer’s Association, our priority is to find affordability and accessibility for the drug.”

Biogen has said its drug, which is intended for patients in the disease’s early stages, may apply to as many as 1.5 million people, NBC News reported.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.