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UC Health to offer new Alzheimer’s drug approved by FDA

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 11:44 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - UC Health is one of three Ohio sites that will offer the first drug targeting an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Aducanumab, which will be marketed as Aduhelm, was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on Monday.

It is the first Alzheimer’s drug approved in the United States since 2003.

Instead of managing some Alzheimer’s symptoms, the drug can likely treat the underlying disease, the Associated Press reported.

Aducanumab focuses on the protein called amyloid, which can result in abnormal clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, according to UC Health.

Amyloid protein comes in several forms. In some cases, it could disrupt connections between brain cells, ultimately leading to brain cell death.

Aducanumab triggers an immune response that removes the toxic forms of amyloid.

“The FDA approval of this treatment is an opportunity for patients with prodromal or mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease to consider a new approach to treatment,” Rhonna Shatz, DO, medical director of the UC Memory Disorders Center and the Sandy and Bob Heimann Chair in Research and Education of Alzheimer’s Disease at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said.

“However, the benefit of the drug hasn’t been firmly established and there are risks that must be considered. During clinical trials, some individuals declined with treatment. Each individual should consult with a physician who specializes in treating Alzheimer’s disease and has familiarity with Aducanumab.”

The AP reported on Monday Aducanumab’s approval came despite “warnings from independent advisers.”

Dr. Shatz says there are still a lot of unknowns about the drug.

“This drug kind of has unfinished business associated with it,” she said. “As much as we would have liked this trial to be much more firm, we are all looking at this now as an opportunity and platform for moving forward.”

Aducanumab was developed by Biogen with Japan’s Eisai Co., according to the AP.

UC Health says they are working with Biogen to determine patient eligibility and other criteria

UC Health expects to make the treatment available to patients later this year.

Aducanumab is administered every four weeks through infusions.

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