Health

US approves first new Alzheimer’s drug in 20 years


U

S government health officials have approved the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years, paving the way for its possible use in the UK.

They did so while disregarding warnings from independent advisers that the much-debated treatment hasn’t been shown to help slow the brain-destroying disease.

It’s the only drug that US regulators have said can likely treat the underlying disease, rather than manage symptoms like anxiety and insomnia.

Aducanumab targets amyloid, a protein that forms abnormal clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s that can damage cells and trigger dementia.

The decision to approve it, which could impact millions of older Americans and their families, is certain to spark disagreements among physicians, medical researchers and patient groups.

It also has far-reaching implications for the standards used to evaluate experimental therapies, including those that show only incremental benefits.

The new drug, which Biogen developed with Japan’s Eisai Co, did not reverse mental decline, only slowing it in one study.

The treatment could lead other pharmaceutical companies to create similar drugs and the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to consider it for use in Britain.

At least 100,000 people in the UK with a mild form of the disease could be suitable for the drug if it were to be approved by the UK regulator, the BBC reported.



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