CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s a new drug for people with Alzheimer’s.
It’s the first new treatment in nearly 20 years. But some experts are questioning whether it really works.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Storms Headed Our Way After Midnight; Damaging Winds And Heavy Rain Possible
CBS 2’s Brandon Merano reports from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge where the new drug was tested.
Some of the first people to get the drug received it at Advocate Lutheran. They were part of nationwide clinical trial.
A downside to the experiment: The Price.
Analysts estimated it will cost $30,000 to $50,000 a year.
Despite that, Alzheimer experts CBS 2 spoke to are calling the new medication a breakthrough.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, a new treatment for Alzheimer’s is approved.
“That’s pretty significant, it’s the first medication that’s actually been shown to slow the progression of the disease,” said Melanie Chavin, Chief Program Officer, Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. “It’s a modest slowing down and it’s not a cure.”
And the news is personal for Melanie Chavin.
“My mother had Alzheimer’s disease and my paternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease and a number other members of my family had different forms of dementia,” Chavin said.
The treatment, administered by IV every four weeks, targets the cause. Not the symptoms.
Northwestern’s Alzheimer’s disease experts call the approval a triumph for the field of research but said it comes with drawbacks because the drug shows a limited effect of slowing the diseases progression.
“The problem is that demonstration that led to clinical improvements or slowing of the disease is not convincing at all,” said Doctor Marsel Mesulam, neurologist at Northwestern Medical.READ MORE: Years After Promise Of $100,000 From State And Photo-Op Prop Check, AMVETS Post 14 In Clinton, Illinois Has Not Seen A Dime
Other medical professionals and organizations hold similar concerns about Aducanumab developed by drug company Biogen.
There’s good news for them: The FDA is requiring follow up clinical trials of the treatment to ensure it’s beneficial.
If not, the FDA can withdraw its approval.
The landmark decision also comes despite recommendations from top FDA advisors to not approve the drug.
“I think the jury is still out on whether it works,” said FDA Advisor Caleb Alexander.
But for those like Chavin, any step forward is a step in the right direction.
“Very, very happy to know this is available for people today,” Chavin said.
Some of the side effects with the drug include headaches, confusion, trouble walking and falls.
Those are also symptoms of progressive Alzheimer’s disease, so that could pose a challenge for doctors and caregivers to figure out if a patient is experiencing them from the drug or the disease.
Breaking news: The FDA has approved Aducanumab, the first FDA-approved drug that delays decline due to Alzheimer’s. On behalf of those impacted by Alzheimer’s & all other dementia, we celebrate today’s historic decision. pic.twitter.com/2oJIeMADog
— Alzheimer's Association (@alzassociation) June 7, 2021MORE NEWS: Some Residents Say A Bears Move To Arlington Heights Would Benefit Community, Others Say It Would Bring Unwelcome Traffic And Crowds