PITTSBURGH – For the first time in 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s.
Families will have more time to attend a different graduation or wedding that they may not have had before.
Sara Murphy knows firsthand what it is like when family members have Alzheimer’s.
Several people in her family had the disease. She is now vice president of programs and services for the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“This is the first FDA-cleared drug on the market that actually addresses the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease, not just symptoms, but progression for those with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s and early stages Alzheimer’s disease slows, ”Murphy said.
The FDA granted approval despite warnings from independent advisors that the treatment could not slow the disease.
Now the FDA is asking the drug manufacturer Biogen to conduct follow-up studies.
The FDA could withdraw the drug if the studies don’t show effectiveness – but it’s approved for now, which is a win for Murphy.
“The fact that three is an opportunity for people to talk to their healthcare provider about it and what it would be like for them is a big deal,” she said.
Health experts say they expect insurance agencies to offer wide coverage of the drug.
The drug, made by Biogen Inc., called aducanumab, would be the first treatment in decades to be approved for patients with the brain-killing disease.
However, a possible approval of aducanumab has sparked a debate. Those seeking approval of the drug point out that treatment will be the first aimed at slowing the course of Alzheimer’s disease rather than treating symptoms of the disease.
Those who refuse to approve the drug point to its cost, safety record, and whether the drug can provide any meaningful benefit to a patient.