Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota celebrate Alzheimer’s drug approval

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:55 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Alzheimer’s disease sufferers have gone 18 years without a new treatment.

But, now there’s a new drug approved by the FDA that could help the roughly six million Americans struggling with the debilitating illness.

It’s called Aducanumab.

We spoke with the leaders at the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota about how the new drug could impact people in our area.

There are 15,000 North Dakotans living with Alzheimer’s.

The disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.

The new drug may offer some hope.

Ralph Jewell led a full and active life until Alzheimer’s slowed him down, and eventually killed him.

His wife Kae Lovaas Jewell took care of him through those nine years, and she wishes the drug had been available sooner.

“I so wish it had been available ten years ago when we were dealing with my husband’s disease, but it will be a godsend for those people who now are in the early stages and have this as an option,” said Lovaas Jewell.

The Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota CEO says they are excited about the new development and what it could mean for their community.

“Now we can say there is a treatment available to help people with this disease and give them more time with their families, more quality time so that they can continue to build those memories,” said Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota CEO Susan Parriott.

Although the approval was a victory for some, the decision is controversial.

The FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct another trial even though the drug will be on the market, because the agency says there are “uncertainties regarding clinical benefits”.

Biogen does not contest the need for more research, adding its researchers are committed to continuing their study of the product.

“The FDA is using a special regulatory mechanism called accelerated approval, which allows a drug to be put out with evidence that is tentative,” said Dr. Jason Karlawish of Penn Memory Center.

As more research continues, the drug is coming to patients at a steep price.

Each IV infusion costs $4,300 or $56,000 a year.

Although it’s unclear when the new drug will hit hospitals, the Alzheimer’s Association says it’s not too early to start discussing treatment options with your physicians.

Copyright 2021 KFYR. All rights reserved.