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The FDA approves a treatment meant to slow the progression of Alzheimer's Disease

The drug Leqembi, was tested in an 18 month long trial. Results show the drug reduced the brain amyloid plaque the Alzheimer's Disease produced.
Posted at 7:40 PM, Jul 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-07 21:40:24-04

COLORADO SPRINGS– A new drug is meant to help people with Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Leqembi drug.

The Senior Director of Communications for Colorado’s Alzheimer's Association, Jim Herlihy, said the drug was approved after a trial found that Leqembi slows the progression of Alzheimer's.

“It is a new drug, at least new in terms of being available soon to the public," said Herlihy. "It works to reduce amyloid plaque in the brain of people who've been diagnosed with either Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment which is very frequently a precursor to Alzheimer's Disease.”

The drug, Leqembi, was tested in an 18 month trial. Patients were injected with the drug, by an IV, every two weeks. The results show on average the drug was able to slow the progression of the disease by nearly 6 months.

The drug works by reducing the level of plaque in someone's brain that is created by Alzheimer's.

“What it does is it removes the plaque that is believed to be causing the symptoms and thereby giving the people who were in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's more time,” said Herlihy.

The drug is made for people in the early stages of Alzheimer's. According to the FDA, more than 6 million Americans across the nation have Alzheimer's Disease. The Alzheimer's Association shares that there are 76,000 people who are 65 and living with Alzheimer’s in Colorado.

Herlihy said because the drug is focused on people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, he estimates that just over a million people in the nation would qualify for this drug.

Leqembi is not available to people yet, but Herlihy suggests that if someone is interested in taking this drug, they should meet with their physician.

“People will need to go through their physician so in terms of availability,” said Herlihy. “My understanding is that since this is limited to people in the very earliest stages of dementia, that there will be a brain scan that would be part of that diagnosis process to determine that, yes, you do have this disease.”

Herlihy said it's important to get a brain scan so people can get properly diagnosed.

“Before you begin prescribing powerful medications to individuals, you want to make sure that you're dealing with the right medical condition,” said Herlihy .

Mallory Hubbard is the Director of Operation and Compliance at Gentle Shepherd Home Care. Hubbard started taking care giving classes at a young age and found her passion to help others.

Gentle Shepherd Home Care is a non medical home care agency that services this senior population in the Colorado Springs area. At work, Hubbard gets to live her dream every day by connecting families with their services and educating families on how to help their loved ones age.

“We help with all of the activities of daily living that one might need on a daily basis that can range from personal care, to needing help with showering, bathing, things like that, we can do light housekeeping, laundry, run errands, provide transportation, and really the all too important companion care,” said Hubbard.

Hubbard said 80% of the people she works with have some form of dementia. When she and her co-workers heard about the new drug, they were extremely hopeful.

“It's actually the first thing we talked about when we got in the office this morning," said Hubbard. "This it's a tremendous breakthrough in the fight to end dementia. There's not that many drugs that have been approved. So, it's truly an amazing breakthrough and it's going to help so many people across the world. Especially those here at Gentle Shepherd Home Care, who we love.”

Hubbard is excited about the life changing drug, but hopes this is only the beginning.

“My hope is that it breaks the ceiling for more drugs, for continued breakthroughs, other than the medical breakthroughs that we've had to help those and help slow the progression of dementia,” said Hubbard.

Hubbard defines Alzheimer's as a progressive disease.

“It starts on the left side of the brain," said Hubbard. "There are three stages: early, mid and late. You just see a variety of cognitive abilities decline as the disease goes on."

Alzheimer's Disease is not curable, but the FDA said the Leqembi is supposed to protect and prolong a person's cognitive functions.
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