Hampton Roads woman reacts to news of FDA-approved drug for Alzheimer's

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Posted at 3:24 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 16:20:30-04

NORFOLK, Va. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Aduhelm (Aducanumab) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, a debilitating disease affecting 6.2 million Americans.

“It’s a new day. It really is a new day, because the last time a drug was approved was close to 20 years ago,” exclaimed Gino Colombara, executive director of the Southeastern Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

The Alzheimer’s Association says this is also the first therapy to demonstrate that removing amyloid from the brain may delay decline in people living with this disease.

Aduhelm, the branded drug from Biogen, is administered intravenously via a 45- to 60-minute infusion every four weeks. Infusion can be done at hospitals or infusion therapy centers and can even be administered at a person’s home by specialized nurses.

It’s estimated to cost $56,000 a year. Colombara said the Association will “fiercely advocate” that the treatment become available to everyone.

“Infusion therapies, which this drug is, have been covered for some treatments - cancer and multiple sclerosis- under Medicare, so we’re hoping that will be the same for Aducanumab,” Colombara stated.

Rachel Costanza is a board member for the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She joined in her early 20s to help raise awareness of a disease that is taking her grandmother.

“When Alzheimer’s runs in your family, it’s almost like time is taken away,” Costanza described.

Though some experts debate whether the treatment works, those like Colombara and Costanza are hopeful this will lead to even more research and more options.

“Change takes a long time, and currently there isn’t a lot on the market when it comes to Alzheimer’s and treatment and prevention and things like that,” said Costanza. “So, I was hoping that during my lifetime I might see something happen.”

The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour hotline: 1-800-272-3900 and representatives are available in most languages. The group offers educational information as well as support groups and details on clinical trials. For more information on the local Alzheimer's Association, click here.