ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Regulators have approved a new treatment to address the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The drug is called Aducanumab and the company that makes the drug says as many as 1.5 million will be eligible for treatment. The treatment is designed to remove sticky deposits of a protein from patients in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s.
“It’s the first FDA-approved drug that delays and slows down Alzheimer’s disease,” said Stacy Tew-Lovasz, who is the president of the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. ” It means everything to families. It means more time. They could be more independent and they can retain memories longer. So, what this does is delays the decline of the disease.
However, there have been some concerns about the results of the clinical trials.
“So, it has been a long process,” said Tew-Lovasz. “There’s a three-phase process in doing clinical trials and so they made a couple of shifts along the way. By looking at the dosage of the drug, looking at when the drugs are administered and different things like that and I think for that reason it became a complicated set of data. So, it’s been a tough decision to get to, but the scientists, we think that having a diverse opinion of many scientists is important because then we can get more innovation and get more things going forward.”
So, how does insurance play into the equation?
“They’ve not figured out insurance or Medicare yet,” said Tew-Lovasz. “It’s such as a new drug that it’s not even going to be available for quite some time. So, we don’t even know exactly when, but at this point it’s costly and for that reason, the Alzheimer’s Association is working diligently to try to work towards getting more affordable access to the drug. However, it’s not just the drug but you also have to qualify as a candidate. You also have to have the assessment and the assessment could be an MRI or CAT scan or PET scan, which is costly as well. So, we are working on the Federal and State level to advocate to get that to a much lower cost.”