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March 19, 1997

Alzheimer Disease Experts Advise a 'Wait for the Data' Response to New Diagnostic Test

JAMA. 1997;277(11):870. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540350020007

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HIGH ON the wish list of Alzheimer disease (AD) researchers and clinicians is a reliable test for diagnosing the disease.

But while a number of methods for doing so have been proposed in recent years, none has yet panned out as the answer clinicians have been looking for.

"A recurring theme for most new Alzheimer's disease diagnostics is that they tend to get marketed and hyped before the data are available in large populations," said Creighton Phelps, PhD, director of the Alzheimer Disease Research Centers Program at the National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Md.

Now, a recent advertising campaign for a new diagnostic test that claims to be "the first test proven to help physicians be certain in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease" in symptomatic patients has a number of experts concerned that the procedure is being marketed before adequate data substantiating such claims have been reported in peer-reviewed journals