FDA approval of new Alzheimer’s disease drug sparks controversy, medical experts say
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly two decades. Some medical experts say the controversial drug is too dangerous, but for those whose loved ones are battling the disease, it may be worth the risk.
“No one deserves to be inflicted with this terrible disease,” said Kathy Norris-Wilhelm, who lost her partner to Alzheimer’s disease.
She said the chance to have more time is an invaluable asset. Norris-Wilhelm lost his wife to early-stage Alzheimer’s disease a few months ago. She learned of the approval this week of Aduhelm, a new drug approved by the FDA that can reduce plaque in the brain and slow memory loss.
“It’s possible to have a better quality of life, to spend more time with your family or whatever you’re procrastinating,” she said. “You can’t put any value on that at all. “
However, the drug’s approval has given rise to mixed reviews. Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, a neuroscientist who heads the University of Arizona’s Center for Brain Science Innovation, told me that the drug had failed one of its two clinical trials.
“Are there enough benefits in terms of cognitive, functional and brain functions in general to justify the risks?” she said.
Side effects can include swelling of the brain, micro-bleeding, and disorientation. Dr Brinton said the drug is beneficial for some people by slowing memory loss for about six months.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this treatment will help some patients,” said Dr. Allan Anderson, director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.
He said the drug does not cure the disease but offers hope.
“I think this is the fresh start in a series of things that we will see in the years to come,” Dr Anderson said.
The FDA is asking the drug company to conduct a new clinical trial to verify the drug’s benefits. The company says the drug costs around $ 56,000 per year.
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