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Patients may face barriers when trying to access new Alzheimer's drug

Alzheimer Drug
Posted at 12:23 PM, Jan 20, 2023

A highly-anticipated Alzheimer's treatment is expected to become available this month. However, experts warn that accessibility will likely be a problem.

Lecanemab is the first treatment that appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. It's only for people in the early stages of cognitive decline.

Lecanemab is an infusion given every two weeks. It's estimated to cost $25,000 a year.

Those not wealthy or those not in clinical trials are expected to be left out.

"Another barrier to access stems from the fact Lecanemab is on accelerated FDA approval," said Dr. Michael Weiner.

He expects the FDA to announce whether the drug gets full approval later this year. If it is fully approved, the Center for Medicare Services will decide whether to cover it.

Once a drug is approved for Medicare, some insurance will pay for it and it is available through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I think those of us in the field, who see these patients and know what's going on and see the effects of this treatment, think that this treatment should definitely be available to the population, and we ought to try to find a way to pay for it," Weiner said.

In clinical trials, the drug has been shown to slow cognitive decline by about 25%. Weiner said that could mean six to nine months of independence for patients and caregivers.