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  • Writer's pictureDr. Norm Dawson

What is the new Alzheimer’s drug?

In a recent article in Time the author discusses the approval of lecanemab a major breakthrough for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. Many have been waiting a long time for a treatment that can slow the progression of the disease. While the drug is not a cure, it is another step, along with being ambitious in taking steps toward prevention in the right direction this drug could potentially help.

The new treatment, which is designed to reduce levels of amyloid-beta, a protein that collects in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, is not a cure, and it’s not clear yet how much it will slow the progression of the disease. Still, the news was a welcome development for patients and their families.

However, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) argued that the data wasn’t strong enough to support the drug’s approval, and therefore declined to cover it. The drug is expensive. At the doctors’s office the cost is about $26,500 per year.

Ivan Cheung, Eisai Inc.’s CEO, estimated that most people might need to take it at least three years. As a result, Medicare won’t cover lecanemab, leaving most patients unable to afford the drug. Private insurers may offer coverage. The drug manufacturer, Eisai, offers a lecanemab patient assistance program, and patients can contact the company.

The Alzheimer’s Association is calling for immediate Medicare coverage for lecanemab, and for other payers to follow suit. “We’re hoping that CMS will do the right thing and provide coverage for this new treatment option for people with mild Alzheimer’s or mild dementia,” said Carrillo. “We’re committed to making sure that people with Alzheimer’s have access to these treatments and that they are able to get the best care possible.”

I feel for the people who have Alzheimer’s and welcome new research. I know the pain of having this disease from loved ones.

In my other blog articles I have noted that the Lancet Commission released a report last year stating that Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, can be prevented by recognizing and practicing simple modifiable risks factors. Hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor for dementia. We must be ambitious about keeping our brains healthy and engaged.

While it is commendable that scientists are working on drugs to treat Alzheimer’s, like many other drugs, a prevention program may alleviate the pain and suffering from many diseases.

So, unless you are one of the few people who can afford the new drug, why not take steps to prevent it in the first place.

See my blog and website for more information.


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