Mayo Clinic expert provides perspective on new Alzheimer’s drug

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(ABC 6 News) – A new promising step forward in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

U.S. health officials on Friday approved a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug that’s been shown to modestly slow the early stages of the brain-robbing disease, albeit with potential safety risks that doctors and patients will have to carefully weigh.

The drug, Leqembi, is the first that’s been convincingly shown to slow the decline in memory and thinking that defines Alzheimer’s by targeting the disease’s underlying biology. The Food and Drug Administration approved it specifically for patients with mild or early cases of dementia.

Leqembi, from Japan’s Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen, is a rare success in a field accustomed to failed experimental treatments for the incurable condition. The delay in cognitive decline brought about by the drug likely amounts to just several months, but some experts say it could still meaningfully improve people’s lives.

“Ultimately it’s probably going to take combination therapy of an amaloid drug, maybe a thao drug, and other drugs to really slow and stop the progression that patients experience in regard to cognitive dysfunction. and the drug that was approved today for amaloid lowering will be part of that picture,”  Dr. Ronald Petersen, a neurologist and director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center said.

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The drug will cost $26,500 for a typical year’s worth of treatment. Eisai said that price reflects the drug’s benefit in terms of improved quality of life, reduced burdens for caregivers and other factors. The company pegged its overall value at $37,000 per year, but said it priced the drug lower to reduce costs for patients and insurers. An independent group that assesses drug value recently said the drug would have to be priced below $20,600 to be cost-effective.