The fight to end Alzheimer’s has been an ongoing process for decades. While new information has come out on certain lifestyle factors that may help reduce the risk—like a brain-healthy diet, a robust social life, and a physically active lifestyle—a medical treatment has not been approved since 2003. That is, until June 2021, when the FDA granted accelerated approval of the drug aducanumab, which is being produced under the name Aduhelm™ by manufacturer Biogen.
The approval of aducanumab marks a significant milestone in Alzheimer’s research, offering hope and optimism about the future. This approval also doesn’t come without questions, though. Many individuals and families want to know more about this new treatment and what it means for them.
What is the New Treatment?
The new Alzheimer’s therapy is a drug called aducanumab, which will be marketed as Aduhelm™. This drug is groundbreaking because it’s the first of its kind to treat the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease rather than simply manage the symptoms. It does this by reducing the buildup of amyloid plaque—a protein associated with disrupting cell function in the brain.
This could mean that individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s could remain independent and active for longer.
Who is Eligible for the Treatment?
Initially, the FDA said they were not requiring any diagnostic test for eligibility. However, they have since updated this by announcing that the new Alzheimer’s treatment is most appropriate for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These were the groups where there was the most evidence of clinical benefit during the trials.
When an individual has early-stage Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment, they can mainly function normally and independently. They may even be able to live successfully on their own. However, MCI might impact certain cognitive abilities, such as remembering important information or completing complex tasks.
How Will the Treatment Work?
Aducanumab will be administered intravenously every four weeks. This can be done at a hospital or a dedicated IV therapy center. Aduhelm™ is expected to have a high price tag, but Biogen is currently negotiating with Medicare regarding coverage.
Another important thing to note is that just because Aduhelm™ has been approved by the FDA does not mean it is readily available to every doctor and patient. Manufacturing and distribution can take anywhere from a few months to a year. Still, if you are interested in the new Alzheimer’s treatment for yourself or a family member, talk with your doctor about your options.
The Future of Alzheimer’s Research
While aducanumab is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a massive step in that direction. The first approved medication in 18 years will bring momentum, interest, optimism, and funding to Alzheimer’s research, working toward the day where no person has to live with the devastating effects of this disease.
Memory Care at Franklin Park®
Franklin Park® Senior Living knows how challenging living with the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease can be. Our Refreshing Waters® memory care program in San Antonio, Texas, provides a supportive and engaging environment for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and memory loss.
Our memory care community includes private apartments that have special features for safety, security, and familiarity, as well as an open and inviting community environment that fosters growth, activity, and relationships. Each day residents will receive healthy meals and snacks, innovative programming (both in one-on-one and group settings), and respect and validation from our compassionate caregivers.
Living with the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Every day, we are closer to finding a cure, and in the meantime, there are support options and resources available.