CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – People who have Alzheimer’s now have a new drug to help slow the progression of the disease. The Food and Drug Administration approved it Monday, and it’s the beginning of a new future for Alzheimer’s treatments.
This is the first drug that will slow the disease after years in the making. It’s important to know that this is not a cure, but it gives people hope who have been diagnosed.
The new drug Aducanumab will change the way people with Alzheimer’s live their daily lives for themselves and their families.
“It treats the underlying course of the disease. Amyloid is the sticky plaque that clogs up the brain. By removing that, it is assumed that the individual will have clinical benefits and improvements in cognitive decline,” Dr. Joanne Pike, who is the Chief Strategy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association said.
According to the West Virginia Alzheimer’s Association, 39,000 people in the state are diagnosed with the disease.
“There are about 80,000 caregivers providing care at no charge and that’s down from pre-covid numbers of about 105,000 and that tells you the number of hours is the same, but fewer people are there to bear the load and that’s a significant change,” Sharon Covert, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Just like any drug, it may not be for everyone. It’s likely most effective in those who are in the early stages or at mild cognitive impairment.
“For the people that it does help this is hope and this is a game-changer. This is a reason to get a diagnosis because there is something you may be able to do about it,” Covert said.
This new discovery hits close to home for Covert.
“I was in tears when I saw it, because this disease effects my family, effects women in my family and I just kept thinking this may be the drug for me one day,” Covert said.
It’s unknown when the drug will be ready for distribution here in West Virginia due to it being a rural state.