Approval of new Alzheimer’s drug is a new era in treatment of the disease

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The FDA’s endorsement of the Alzheimer’s medication Leqembi is a beacon of hope for the more than five million Americans with the brain-robbing disease. LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center Professor Dr. Owen Carmichael said it’s a completely new era for Alzheimer’s disease.

“And the real difference that we have today is that we have a drug that goes right to the heart of what Alzheimer’s disease is and attacks the disease itself, as opposed to the symptoms,” said Carmichael.

Carmichael said the medication is a twice-weekly infusion that’s been shown to clear sticky brain plaque linked to the disease.

And while it’s a remarkable advancement, Carmichael cautions Leqembi can have notable side effects.

“About 13% of the people who take the drug ended up with brain swelling or bleeding that caused them to have to get off the drug,” said Carmichael.

The FDA’s accelerated approval of Leqembi also prompted the Center for Medicare Services to announce they’ll pay for the drug via coverage under evidence development. That means patients will be monitored and physicians are required to track their progress similar to a clinical trial.

Carmichael warns the medication is not effective for all Alzheimer’s patients, it’s only effective against those with a specific protein in the brain.

“Somewhere between 10% and 15% of the people who look to all the world, like they have Alzheimer’s disease, just simply don’t have this amyloid protein in the brain they have other protein,” said Carmichael.

Carmichael said it’s not known yet if long-term use of the medication will reverse one’s brain to pre-Alzheimer’s status and if the medication can wear off.

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