New FDA-approved drug for Alzheimer’s gives Omaha-metro families hope

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 9:06 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - News of a newly approved drug is giving Omaha-metro families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s some encouragement that others after them may not have to walk the same road.

For the first time in almost two decades, a new drug to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The drug, Aducanumab, attacks the amyloid protein, which disrupts cell function in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. And it’s a drug championed by Collin Warren, who lost his mother and grandmother to the disease.

“I stopped hearing my name. I stopped hearing ‘I love you,’” he said. “And those are the most horrible feelings you could ever have.”

Although the FDA approved the medication, the agency’s own advisory committee said “there are still some uncertainties about its clinical benefit.” The committee is asking Biogen, the company behind the medication, to conduct more clinical trials. Biogen said the drug does not cure the disease but called it the first of its kind that disrupts the memory-loss process rather than merely addressing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

In the meantime, Aducanumab will be available for patients. For the nurses and staff at Omaha’s Prairie Meadows Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, which cares for nearly 60 patients, it’s a preventative measure. Brandi Petrick, executive director at Prairie Meadows, said doctors will determine what’s best for each patient. But Petrick considers the approval a victory.

“This is an awesome win,” she said. “It really develops that early-onset stage of Alzheimer’s, and with that, it will help ... slow the progression of the disease.”

For loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients, like Warren, it’s a huge medical advancement.

“Every drug has its fallbacks,” he said. “But if it helps one person get a little more time to get that cure, or a little bit of time with their family, where they’re not having to go through this, that is the ultimate goal.”

6 News has reached out to major hospital systems for their input on the new medicine but had not heard back at the time of this report.

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