4 News Now Q&A: What do we know about the newly approved Alzheimer’s treatment?

Your Questions Answered
Alzheimers drug shows promise
Copyright 2019 CNN
A promising Alzheimer's drug is back on track for approval.

Q: What do we know about the newly approved Alzheimer’s treatment? 

A: For the first time in nearly two decades, the FDA has approved new treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a historic development in fighting against the disease, but many have questions about it. What does it do? How much does it cost? Why is it so controversial?

Biogen’s medication is a monthly infusion for patients with early stage Alzheimer’s. It’s the first treatment that targets how the disease works, rather than the symptoms alone. Patients who undergo treatment require regular follow-up MRIs.

While advocacy groups pushed for the drug’s approval, some health experts are critical. Trials ended in 2019, when the data didn’t show enough evidence that the drug worked.

“Efficacy, that’s part of the reason for controversy,” ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. “And then safety. When you talk about 40 percent risk of brain swelling, 17 percent of people in clinical trials had microscopic hemorrhages.”

As for the cost, Biogen says the drug would be about $56,000 for a typical year’s worth of treatment. This price, however, is the list price, not the net price or the price paid by patients with insurance. Many insurance plans will require doctors to submit records and other paperwork justifying the treatment before agreeing to cover it.

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