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FDA Approves first Alzheimer’s medication since 2003

ALPENA, Mich. — After a decade of research, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever treatment to possibly delay the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It’s the first Alzheimer’s treatment to be approved by the FDA since 2003. Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death and affects 6.2 million people. On Monday, Biogen’s drug “aducanumab” was approved by the FDA for treating Alzheimer’s.

“It’s historic, the FDA approving this,” said Jean Barnas, the Program Services Director for the Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It gives me the chills, it’s the first drug that’s been approved to potentially delay and decline treatment, ever, for Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Unlike other Alzheimer’s medication that simply look to alleviate symptoms, aducanumab targets the amyloid plaques that build-up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. By working to prevent build-up, the drug in turn slows the progression of the disease, giving patients and families both hope and more time with each other.

“For families, it provides a lot of hope,” Barnas said. “Obviously for individuals who are diagnosed, it gives so much time back to them.”

Barnas says that the approval of the drug should set a benchmark for future research into further treating the disease.

However, the treatment is currently very expensive; Barnas and the Alzheimer’s Association are looking at ways to make it accessible for everyone who needs it.

“Currently it is quite expensive,” Barnas said. “We’re going to work with healthcare providers, and health systems and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare. We believe all people are entitled and should be able to receive access to treatment options regardless of the price.”

Barnas has been working with the Alzheimer’s Association for twenty years, and has personal experience with the disease. Yesterday’s news left her speechless.

“For a lot of individuals that are newly diagnosed, or that are questioning or that have mild cognitive impairment,” Barnas said. “To be able to help them or help future individuals- it gives me a loss of words actually.”

The Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association offers education and services to those who need it. A 24/7 helpline can be reached at 800-272-3900 or at helplinegmc@alz.org. For more information, the Michigan Chapter can be found at alz.org/gmc.