What new drug could mean for the 35,000 Nebraskans with Alzheimer’s

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – There’s some encouraging news about an experimental drug used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The drug is called Lecanemab, and research shows it reduced severity of Alzheimer’s symptoms by 27%. 

“This treatment, Lecanemab specifically, has the opportunity to change the course of the disease in a meaningful way for Alzheimer patients,” said Nick Faustman, director of public policy and advocacy for the Nebraska’s Alzheimer’s Association.

More than 35,000 Nebraskans have the disease, according to the association.

Patients with early signs of Alzheimer’s showed less cognitive and functional decline after taking the drug compared with a placebo group. 

“It could mean, frankly, many months more of recognizing their spouse or children or grandchildren, so that’s a huge deal,” Faustman said

But there is a concern among advocates about the drug’s accessibility. 

“For people who don’t have a lot of financial resources, it’s extremely important to be able to provide, whether it’s Medicare or Medicaid, coverage to these individuals so that they can get what they need,” Faustman said. 

He said that with previous treatments, even though they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decided to limit coverage to people involved in clinical trials. 

“That’s a huge issue, particularly in the state of Nebraska, where there aren’t a whole lot of places where clinical trials occur,” Faustman said. 

 The drug’s makers say they will apply for FDA approval by March. 

Researchers say that while Lecanemab shows promise, the drug also had some side effects, such as headaches, brain swelling and brain bleeding.

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