TULSA EXPERTS DISCUSS NEW DRUG MEANT TO SLOW PROGRESSION OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Ch. 6 - July 12, 2023 6:54 am

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The FDA has approved the first drug clinically proven to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Part of that clinical trial was conducted in Tulsa.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma said this doesn’t mean there is a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it is hopeful this drug will give people the chance to better combat the illness.

The new drug is called Leqembi, which works by trying to get rid of a protein that forms in the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

“One of the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease is a protein called Amyloid beta, and Leqembi helps clear out some of that protein from the brain and reduces the level of Amyloid in the brain,” said Jacob Guinan, the Community Outreach Coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma. “And that does seem to help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Some of the clinical trials for Leqembi were done at Central States Research in Tulsa.

Guinan said Leqembi is the first drug the FDA has approved that doesn’t just treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, it looks at the cause.

“This isn’t a cure,” said Guinan. “But we are finally getting to an era where we’re developing some effective Alzheimer’s treatments for people that are actually disease-modifying, they’re not just treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.”

Before the FDA approved the drug, Leqembi cost $26,500.

Now that it’s approved, Medicare and Medicaid will help cover the cost. But it’s not clear yet how much patients will pay.

“I think now that it’s not going to be so exorbitantly expensive, it makes it a little bit easier to have those conversations with your doctor and to say, ‘okay, is this the right drug for me?'” said Guinan.

Guinan hopes patients will do their research and decide whether Leqembi is right for them.

“That’s really what we were advocating for, is people having the opportunity to be able to use this drug,” explained Guinan.

The FDA has only approved Leqembi for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. More trials are expected to be done to see how it affects people over time.

Leqembi has been clinically proven to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s by about five months.

Some of the side effects of Leqembi include amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA), which can lead to brain swelling and brain bleeding.

 

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