INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in nearly 20 years, the FDA has approved a new drug to help treat Alzheimer’s Disease.
Aducanumab, made by Massachusetts-based Biogen, was granted approval on Monday. It’s the only drug regulators have said can likely treat the underlying disease, rather than manage symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia.
“This is the first approved treatment shown to actually modify the biology of the disease, so this does mean this can slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Natalie Sutton, executive director for the Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter.
Sutton called the approval a breakthrough for the future treatment of Alzheimer’s.
“While we recognize that this is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, we recognize that this is a big step forward and I think it brings with it a lot of hope and optimism about the way the science can continue to progress,” said Sutton.
The decision comes after and independent advisory panel urged the FDA to reject the drug, saying the treatment hadn't been shown to help slow the progression of the disease.
However, the treatment is endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“I don’t believe we have any concerns, other than making sure that those that are good candidates have access and that we eliminate the barriers for people receive this treatment that could benefit them,” said Sutton.
Pat Armstrong’s mother died from Alzheimer’s in 2008 and has had other family members diagnosed with the disease. She is now an advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness.
“I am excited. I am excited. I just wish it would have come sooner,” said Armstrong. “I am very hopeful for other people to have this opportunity.”
There are currently about 110,000 people in Indiana diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
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