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Alzheimer’s Assoc. celebrating first drug approved to treat disease in nearly 20 years

Published: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:51 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - For the first time in nearly two decades, the FDA has approved a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab, the medication developed by Biogen is for mild cognitive impairment associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

In November, all ten members the advisory committee voted against the drug, stating there’s not enough evidence to show it’s effective. But, for the West Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s a glimmer of hope.

“For something of this magnitude to come out just is another glimpse of light and that we will find that first survivor. We will end this disease,” Director of Development, Julie Gray said.

According to the drugmaker, the treatment works by reducing amyloid beta plaques, which are protein buildups in the brain found in patients with the disease. Gray says that means it’s the first to target the biology of the disease, not just the symptoms.

“So, when given to those with mild cognitive impairment or early stages of Alzheimer’s disease it can slow that progression and that’s giving more precious time to those diagnosed individuals and their loved ones,” Gray said.

As part of the FDA’s accelerated approval, Biogen will conduct a controlled trial to verify the clinical benefit in patients.

The treatment is given through an IV once a month. Biogen’s website states the wholesale cost is $4,312 per infusion, a yearly cost of $56,000. Gray says the association will be working to break down barriers to access.

“440,000 Texans are living with this disease. There’s over a million unpaid caregivers in the state,” Gray said.

Gray is hopeful this will open the door for more treatments down the road, and eventually a cure.

“We’ve got some hope out there. And that it’s just going to lead us down that path of more effective therapies, more effective drugs and like I said, we’re going to end this disease,” Gray said.

The historic approval comes as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month begins.

The Alzheimer’s Association is partnering with several restaurants and local businesses to raise money for “The Longest Day” on June 20.

It’s the day of the summer solstice, where people across the world will “fight the darkness” of the disease.

You can find those businesses and events for that day here: https://sites.google.com/alz.org/wtxlocalupcomingactivities/home

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