Despite the euphoria over the approval of Adulhem, the most promising Alzheimer’s drug to date, some doctors are hesitant.
It begins with absentmindedness. Where will the keys have been? When did we meet to meet for breakfast? Thus, it goes unnoticed. Overall, it can happen to all of us. Eventually, names of close relatives are lost also. Later, Alzheimer’s patients forget that their partners passed away, they have trouble plan their days and leave simple tasks undone.
The study to find the causes and possible solutions for this degenerative brain disease have generated few alternatives for the sick. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States gave permission for the sale of a drug that counteracts the progression of the disease. The price has caused controversy around the world: it rises to 56 thousand dollars.
Adulhem: a definitive solution, but inaccessible
As time progresses, the language and understanding of certain concepts cease to make sense for Alzheimer’s cases. Eventually, sufferers lose the ability to speak and fend for themselves. In an effort to slow down — and possibly completely eliminate — disease from the body, the Adulhem was developed: a effective molecular therapy to counteract the effects of it.
This week, health regulators in the United States approved its sale and distribution throughout the country. After the research project required billions of dollars of investment, it appears that the Alzheimer’s drug may slow down the progression of the disease, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Never before has a treatment offered this possibility. However, the price takes millions of people who suffer from it out of the possibilities, and who could not even close to it. Annually, the drug is estimated to be around 56 thousand dollars per person. In contrast, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review estimates that it could be profitable at a much lower price, of approximately $ 8,300 a year.
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It is not the only drug against Alzheimer’s
This is not the first time the FDA has approved an Alzheimer’s drug. Since 2003, alternative treatments have been allowed, such as the drugs Namenda and Aricept. These options reduce symptoms, but they can’t remove them completely, as the Adulhem promises to do.
This new treatment is intended for patients in early stages of the disease, according to Biogen, the company in charge of its development. The cognitive impairment must be mild so that it can function optimally:
“The Adulhem clinical trials were the first to show that a reduction in these plaques, a hallmark finding in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, is expected to lead to a reduction in the clinical decline of this devastating form of dementia,” he said. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s drug division.
Although this is true, the FDA has not given a verdict as to which people are eligible to be given Adulhem. However, Biogen assured that it would market the treatment to customers based on patients in early stages.
A delicate prescription
In addition to the impressive expense that Adulhem requires annually, lhe prescription of this drug against Alzheimer’s is not easy. Doctors suggesting it should make sure their patients have accumulations of amyloid, which have been the main indicators of Alzheimer’s in people. This can be observe in x-rays or lumbar punctures.
Unlike other drugs that fight the disease, this one is not administered orally, with capsules. Conversely, requires applications once a month in specialized clinics. Patients who follow the treatment should be closely monitored, to protect yourself from potential brain bleeds, according to Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
“It will take a lot of education and a lot of logistical hurdles,” Isaacson emphasized, as the 41% of clinical trials had side effects, only visible on MRIs. Although the picture is broader for Alzheimer’s patients, the consequences are not yet certain enough. The Adulhem approval, therefore, has been questioned by the most cautious doctors.
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