What to Know about Aducanumab / Aduhelm - the New FDA Approved Drug to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

July 8, 2021
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What to Know about Aducanumab / Aduhelm - the New FDA Approved Drug to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

At Village Green Alzheimer’s Care Home, we are thrilled to learn about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug Aducanumab as it’s the first drug to target an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Biogen accomplished a milestone as it unveiled the first drug to treat Alzheimer’s in 20 years and the first of its kind to treat brain damage observed in patients diagnosed with the mind-robbing disease.

Currently, there are over six million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so there are millions of families interested in learning more about Aducanumab - marketed as Aduhelm - to see if their mother, father, or loved one is a candidate for the new drug.

Who is a Candidate?

Families all over the U.S are trying to determine if their loved one is a candidate for this highly anticipated new medicine.

Unfortunately, the FDA decision to approve Aduhelm for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease did not specify the patient population who could benefit from this new drug. Aduhelm was tested on patients in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s before the disease had a chance to rob most of the memories from this test group. The drug was not tested on those diagnosed with moderate dementia, a stage in the disease where patients begin losing the ability to provide self-care and feed themselves.

One top US health insurer, Cigna Corp., stated it is likely that payers, including the federal government’s Medicare program for seniors, will cover the use of the drug only in the patient population it was tested on. This means patients with a moderate or advanced diagnosis of the disease are not candidates only those with the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s. Biogen has estimated that around 1.5 million affected Americans are eligible for treatment with Aduhelm.

Alzheimer’s is estimated to account for at least 60% of those with dementia, which involves a decline in memory, reasoning or thinking skills, and a basic ability to function, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Patients who take Aduhelm will likely need both cognitive testing and confirmation that their dementia is due to Alzheimer’s. This is confirmed via a lumbar puncture to examine spinal fluid or through a special brain, scan to verify the presence of amyloid in the brain. Aduhelm targets amyloid-beta, which is a type of plaque that forms in the brain and causes brain functioning decline and memory loss in patients diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimers.

How Does it Work?

Aduhelm is designed to reduce amyloid-beta, a protein that forms sticky deposits or plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It binds to the beta-amyloid plaques – and slows down the process that would eventually lead to widespread destruction of brain cells. Amyloid is thought to begin forming years before any signs of memory loss appear, making treatment to those diagnosed early as the most likely benefit from the breakthrough drug. The drug is designed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, allowing patients to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. It is not a cure for the disease, it’s a medical drug treatment.

Is Aduhlem a Pill?

No. Aduhelm is given as a monthly intravenous infusion. Most patients will likely need to travel to specialty infusion centers to receive the treatment. Biogen reported in April of 2021 that it was working with 600 US centers to prepare for the pending launch of the drug. Check with your loved one’s Alzheimer’s doctor to see if your relative qualifies to receive Aduhelm treatments.

How Long is the Treatment?

Aduhelm is different from other drugs on the market as it’s the only one that treats symptoms. In clinical trials, this drug delayed the progression of the disease by about 20 to 40 percent depending on the outcome measure in patients who had success with the treatment. Aduhelm is administered intravenously through a monthly infusion, starting with a low dose that increases over the first six months of treatment. It is extremely important that a patient continues these infusions through the highest dose to confirm the potential benefits, which are generally not seen during the first year of treatment. As it stands, this is a long-term treatment with no recommended end.

Schedule a Visit with us Today!

Our mission at Village Green Alzheimer’s Care Home is to enrich the lives of our residents and bring dignity and respect to their golden years. We will nurture the unique needs of our seniors and promote purposeful meaning to each day in a warm and loving home.

Unlike many memory care operations, we offer convenient facilities in and around Houston, Texas, Village Green offers assisted living and memory care communities in The Woodlands, Cypress, Champions, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Rockwall, Mckinney, and Highland Village. All our locations are state-of-art, purpose-built with our residents’ needs in mind. We invite you to visit, tour, and see for yourself how our assisted living and memory care campuses exceed your relative’s needs.

Contact one of our specialists today to make an appointment to discuss your relative’s unique memory care needs at one of our convenient campuses.

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