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Alzheimer’s Arkansas: FDA approving drug provides hope, but is concerning

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s said to be the first major advancement in Alzheimer’s treatment in two decades, as the FDA approved a new drug to fight the cruel disease.

Executive Director Carolyn Berry with Alzheimer’s Arkansas said the news gives her hope, but she still worries about the cost and effectiveness of the drug.

“I’m excited but I do have concerns like everyone else,” Berry said.

The FDA approved the drug, named Aduhelm, which is designed to slow cognitive decline in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but it comes with controversy.

“You have people on one side saying it’s not beneficial, you have people on the other side saying it is,” Berry said. “Just a lot of confusing information out there about if it works or not.”

The company Biogen makes the drug, and the FDA told them to keep testing the drug, even though it’s been approved. Most experts say the drug needs more studies, and that’s not all.

“It is truly expensive,” Berry said. “Access is going to be one of those things that I’m worried about for caregivers.”

Alzheimer’s Arkansas helps over 20,000 caregivers. Berry says she doesn’t envision many people forking over that much money for the drug, but she is hopeful it will at least lead to further advancements down the road.

“Without hope, we have nothing,” Berry said. “At least, we have something that is going to open the doorway to slowing down the disease, or even treatment for the disease or even cure for the disease.”

Berry says Alzheimer’s Arkansas is hoping more cost-effective drugs such as this one will come soon.

“When you go so long without any breakthroughs and then you get one,” Berry said. “I think it’s just exciting. It gives opportunity.”

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