fda approves aducanumab

In June of this year, the FDA approved the drug aducanumab for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. 

“This approval is a victory for people living with Alzheimer’s and their families,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association president and chief executive officer. “This is the first FDA-approved drug that delays decline due to Alzheimer’s disease. This means individuals may have more time to actively participate in daily life, have sustained independence and hold on to memories longer. We can experience longer the relationships we hold most dear — our families and friends.”

Aducanumab addresses Alzheimer’s in a new way compared to previously approved drugs. This therapy slows progression of the disease, rather than only addressing symptoms. It is the first approved therapy of this type, demonstrating that removing amyloid from the brain may delay clinical decline in people living with Alzheimer’s. Amyloid is the protein that clumps into sticky brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug’s manufacturer Biogen has announced a price of $56,000 per year for the treatment, which the Alzheimer’s Association considers unacceptable. For many, it will pose an insurmountable barrier to access. It will also complicate and jeopardize sustainable access to this treatment and could further deepen issues of health equity. As a result, the Alzheimer’s Association is calling on Biogen to lower the cost.

“Eliminating barriers to access is our highest priority,” said Joanne Pike, Alzheimer’s Association chief strategy officer. “The Alzheimer’s Association will do everything in its power to ensure access to the drug for all who will benefit. We know that infusion therapies have been made available under Medicare and insurance for conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis, so it is reasonable to expect this for aducanumab.”

Early diagnosis has demonstrated better health outcomes for individuals and their caregivers. The approval of this new therapy makes early detection and diagnosis even more critical to ensure individuals receive the most benefit at the earliest point possible.

“This therapy will be of great interest to many, but it is not the only important element of Alzheimer’s treatment and care. The Alzheimer’s Association has made it a priority to partner with health care systems, physicians, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure early and accurate diagnosis, and access to treatment, care management and care planning,” said Pike.

If you or a loved one is experiencing memory changes, the Alzheimer’s Association strongly encourages speaking with a health care provider for a thorough evaluation, diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. For more information on diagnosis or to find a local health care provider, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org or the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

The Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley Chapter has a variety of educational programs for the general public including Healthy Living for your Brain and Body, which offers information from the latest research to help plan for healthy aging. Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia explains the basics about dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as resources that can help. Legal & Financial Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease offers tips on how to put legal and financial plans in place as one gets older. Virtual social programs include ALZ Across New York: an ongoing series of virtual trips to various destinations around the state; AlzWell Social Club: an ongoing series featuring creative interactive activities and support sessions; Memory Cafes: virtual social activities for people with early-stage dementia and their family caregivers involving musical entertainment, meditation and more; Something for ALZ: A series of online interactive sessions to include art, music, movement and other creative activities.
For specific dates and times when these and other programs are being offered, visit alz.org/hudsonvalley.
You can also register for programs or obtain more information by calling the Alzheimer’s Association at 800.272.3900.

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