INDIANAPOLIS — Families who have loved ones struggling with Alzheimer's disease are feeling a glimmer of hope. The FDA approved Aduhelm, a drug created by Biogen, that is said to treat Alzheimer's disease as the first drug to slow the disease.
While this is not a cure for the debilitating disease, this treatment means a lot for families impacted by Alzheimer's.
"My mother was very healthy, but her mind was not there and her memory was not there and eventually the disease effects many more areas," Pat Armstrong, of Indianapolis said. "Eventually you can't walk, you can't sit up, you can't swallow. It's debilitating."
Armstrong was by her mother's side as she struggled for a decade with Alzheimer's disease.
Dorothy Farrell was only 67 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, a disease that has no existing options of treatment and no cure.
"We spent 10 years watching her decline and she was a different person and you could see in her, you could see in her eyes that she was lost and she was scared and she wanted help and you knew that there was nothing you could do for her," Armstrong explained.
Farrell passed away in 2008 after a ten year battle with the disease.
As of this week, some hope for families like Armstrong's who are experiencing Alzheimer's; a new drug by Biogen called Aduhelm.
"I would have welcomed this drug definitely," Armstrong said. "Any more time I could have gotten with her, the way she was, would have been wonderful."
This historic FDA approval is a new day in Alzheimer’s research as the first approved treatment that slows progression of the disease.
Given by infusion once a month, the FDA said Aduhelm can help in the early stages of the disease to potentially delay the decline from the disease. Currently, there are only medications to address symptoms.
This means a lot to the five million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s, as well as their families.
“110,000 Hoosiers are living with Alzheimer's Disease,” Natalie Sutton with the Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter said. “Another 215,000 Hoosiers providing unpaid care and anybody who has been personally impacted just knows the heavy toll this takes on families and those affected.”
There is some controversy over this new drug with some specialists arguing the benefits do not outweigh the serious side effects, which could include swelling in the brain. But, the Alzheimer’s Association is in support of the new drug.
“The FDA approved this through a different pathway because of the great need,” Sutton added. “We recognize the significant need and the benefit this treatment can have for the families affected by Alzheimer's Disease and we believe there is enough scientific evidence in the forestudy to support approval.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, to receive Aduhelm from a physician, patients must undergo an FDA-required diagnostic test. The Alzheimer’s Association offers support and resources for families interested in this new drug therapy to assist with the disease.
For more information about Alzheimer's, check out the Alzheimer’s Association website: https://www.alz.org/.