Minot-area families impacted by Alzheimer’s react to FDA approval of treatment drug

Minot-area families impacted by Alzheimer's react to FDA approval of treatment drug
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 12:03 AM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) - More than six million families face the uncertainty of Alzheimer’s.

Last week, the FDA approved a new drug called Leqembi.

KMOT’s Haley Burchett spoke with impacted families and a geriatric specialist to learn more.

College sweethearts Debbie and Les Anderson were married for 47 years when Debbie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“As we are doing the research and as we’re promoting awareness, we find that Alzheimer’s is in every family, every family. And that’s why it’s so important that people are not afraid to share their journey because that is the only way we’re going to find a cure,” said Anderson.

David Larson and his wife Sandy were together five years before symptoms began. When she died last year, he said his only hope was his family and other resources.

“There is support. There are people who know the ins and outs of the disease and reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Larson.

For Kristie Branham Medley, the journey began in 2021 with her husband Roy’s diagnosis, and she said it is a road she never dreamed she’d travel.

“What people need to understand is that, yes, it affects the person with the disease, but as time goes on, they no longer realize that and it’s the family that’s left that continues to suffer the devastating impacts,” said Medley

Dr. Ashley Sarasan with Trinity Health said the recently approved treatment is expected to slow the disease’s progression. It’s through an IV every two weeks, lasting 45 minutes to an hour for each infusion.

“This is probably the first time that we’re going to be making those changes to the brain,” said Sarasan.

As for Les, he said he has faith that Debbie’s legacy will be the first Alzheimer’s survivor.

Dr. Sarasan said the medication will not reverse the process or prevent it but slows it down.

Patients on Medicaid alone shouldn’t have to pay for FDA-approved drugs.

However, while all drugs are required to be covered across state Medicaid programs, there is no guarantee.

Dr. Sarasan also mentioned that within the next few years, Alzheimer’s could be discovered earlier through a simple blood test.

This is being developed and is in clinical trials now.