FDA approves new treatment for Alzheimer’s, giving families hope

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A new drug has been fast-tracked to treat Alzheimer’s. The Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval for Aduhelm on Monday.

It’s the first treatment approved for Alzheimer’s since 2003. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder.

“This gives us so much hope,” said Melanie Chavin, chief program officer for the Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The disease destroys a person’s memory and thinking skills. FDA leaders say research shows Aduhelm clears away amyloid plaque build up in the brain.

“It suppresses [and] gives people a few more months, a little more time, in the early stages of the disease,” said Chavin.

The medication was put on the fast track, expediting its review. FDA leaders said it’s “reasonably likely” to help patients.

“The people who received this therapy had an increase in their cognitive functioning and their overall just physical functioning,” said Chavin.

The disease affects 6.2 million Americans, including Joe Dulin’s late father from central Illinois.

“My dad was diagnosed at 54 years old with early onset Alzheimer’s,” he said.

His father died in January.

“I say we lost him from a sense that we lost his body because the disease took his memory years ago,” said Dulin.

Dulin said slowing down the disease gives families more time together.

“Even if it’s a few more months or a few more years with their loved ones. I think that’s down the right path of where we need to go,” said Dulin.

However, Dulin thinks the price tag, $56,000 for a year’s worth of treatments, is out of reach for many.

“Cost shouldn’t be a barrier for someone to have hope that they might slow down such a terrible disease,” said Dulin.

But, Chavin said the medication will still reach patients.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this meidcation is available to all who need it,” said Chavin.

Dulin believes the treatment gives families a new option, but says there’s still a ways to go.

“Hopefully we don’t just settle for finding treatment for the disease, we keep going until there’s a cure,” said Dulin.

Dulin said the new treatment will hopefully bring attention to the disease and attract more funding for research. He also said education, research, and advocacy are important and encourage people to get involved in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” in October. Dulin walks with the ‘You’re Killin Me Alz‘ team in his father’s honor. People can support Dulin here.

Leaders from the Alzheimer’s Association said if people think they or a loved one would be a good candidate for the treatment, talk to a doctor to decide what’s best for the family.

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