SNMMI Co-Hosts Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill: Diagnostic Imaging and Alzheimer’s

January 30, 2020

Speaker panel for congressional briefing, from left: Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-1) Subcommittee Chairman on Energy; Michael Guastella, CORAR; Alzheimer’s patient and caregiver team Geri and Jim Taylor; Dr. William Klunk, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

On Wednesday, January 29, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, the Council on Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals (CORAR), and the Medical Imaging Technology Alliance (MITA) co-hosted a congressional briefing entitled: A New Hope: Advancements in Diagnostic Imaging and Alzheimer’s.

The briefing was an opportunity for physicians, patients and industry representatives to educate congressional representatives and staff about the growing importance of access to diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals—in particular, those for amyloid PET imaging for the diagnosis, research and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Event speakers also addressed the need for fair payment for radiopharmaceuticals and passage of the Medicare Diagnostic Radiopharmaceutical Payment Equity Act of 2019 (H.R. 3772).

Speakers included Alzheimer’s patient and caregiver team Geri and Jim Taylor; Dr. William Klunk, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center; and Dr. Gersham Dent, senior director of clinical imaging at Biogen. Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-1), one of the original cosponsors of HR 3772, dropped in to voice his support for the bill.

“Only when my amyloid PET scan results were positive did I know definitively that I had Alzheimer’s,” said Mrs. Taylor. “The daily uncertainty in my life was resolved.” She and her husband, Jim, now advocate for increasing Alzheimer’s clinical trial participation, which is dependent on access to amyloid PET imaging.

“Geri and I are here because we so adamantly believe that the coverage and payment issues related to Alzheimer’s PET scans must be corrected,” shared Jim. “The issue of low participation in clinical research goes hand in hand with the radiopharmaceutical reimbursement issue discussed here today.”

William Klunk, MD, PhD, and co-inventor of the first amyloid imaging radiotracer, Pittsburgh Compound-B, elaborated on the history of amyloid PET scans and the role they play in the diagnosis and development of treatment plans. “Relative to past diagnostic approaches, amyloid PET scans allow us to track disease progression in a way that is clear and striking,” said Klunk. “Put in simpler terms, these tools are shining a light on important dimensions of the disease that were previously unclear.”

Gersham Dent, PhD, MBA, and senior director of development imaging at Biogen, spoke about the importance of amyloid PET imaging in Alzheimer’s disease drug development. “Amyloid imaging is used to select the right patients for clinical trials,” shared Dent. “It may be critical for patient identification when therapies enter the market, and patients can benefit from new therapies only if infrastructure issues are addressed and appropriate reimbursement is in place.”

In order to ensure patient access to these lifesaving diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, we need your help. Please use this link to write your members of Congress expressing your support for the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging.