Lecanemab: new hope for Alzheimer’s comes at a $56,000 price

Last Modified: Jan 10th, 2023 - Category: Accessibility, News
Lecanemab news: FDA approves it under the brand Leqembi

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Leqembi (lecanemab-irmb) under the accelerated approval process for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

This new scientific advance in teh fight against Alzheimer’s uses the generic name Lecanemab, but it will use the brand Leqembi. This one is the second in a new class of drugs approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that target the underlying pathology of the disease.

You may be wondering what this has to do with UX. Well, if you look at our articles, you’ll find many articles in the accessibility category, many of which relate to Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve also worked with several Alzheimer’s associations, so we’re really excited about that. Finally, this is a big deal because it’s the first drug approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in over 20 years.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and degenerative disease of the brain that affects millions of people around the world. The condition is caused by the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which contribute to the death of brain cells and the progressive decline in cognitive function that we see in Alzheimer’s patients.

For more detailed information on the disease and treatment, please visit the Alzheimer’s information page on the FDA website or on the CDC’s “What is Alzheimer’s?” page.

Lecanemad news: Image of Electron micrograph displaying an amyloid plaque
Electron micrograph of an amyloid plaque (in pink, from center to lower center) in a brain with Alzheimer’s disease.
Credits: Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science Source

How does Lecanemab works?

This new drug attacks these amyloid plaques by binding to a protein called beta-amyloid, which is a major component of those plaques. By blocking the formation of beta-amyloid, Lecanemab is believed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, which in turns should improve the cognitive function of patients. Lecanemab fast approval was based on the results of two clinical trials that involved more than 1,300 patients, all of them with early Alzheimer’s disease.

The research methodology included a control group of patients receiving a placebo and a group receiving the real drug. Patients receiving the new Alzheimer’s medication showed significant improvements in cognitive function compared to the group of patients receiving placebo. These improvements were measured using a standardized test known as Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE). This test assesses memory, language and other cognitive abilities in a matrix sheet.

One of the aforementioned clinical trials demonstrated that Lecanemab slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as measured by the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDRS). This scale is used to assess the severity of dementia and is based on observations of daily functioning and patients’ ability to perform activities of daily living.

Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDRS) example
Example of Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDRS) used to assess severity of senile dementia and Alzheimer’s

Putting some perspective on Leqembi and Lecanemab news

Is this new drug the end of Alzheimer’s disease as we know it?

Short answer: no.

While Lecanemab may not be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it has the potential to improve the quality of life for patients and their families in a significant way.

However, it all comes at a price. Like any new scientific development, it has a long way to go before we can say it’s a good (or hopefully great) solution

Deaing with Lecanemab side effects

The most common side effects of Lecanemab reported in clinical trials were infusion-related reactions, which occurred in about 10% of patients. These reactions included fever, chills, nausea, and headache, which were generally mild to moderate in severity. The drug also contains a warning about the potential risk of brain swelling, but this occurred in only a small number of patients in clinical trials.

Leqembi price

Now let’s talk about Leqembi price. Sadly, Lecanemab isn’t exactly cheap. It’s expected to cost around $56,000 per year; without a doubt, this is significantly higher than other Alzheimer’s therapies currently on the market. This could be a barrier for many patients and their families, especially since Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic condition that requires long-term treatment

Additionally, some experts have also expressed caution about the its long-term effectiveness. While the drug appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the short term, it’s not clear whether it’ll offers lasting benefit as the disease progresses.

On the bright side…

Despite the concerns I mentioned above, the approval of Lecanemab is a big deal and a promising advance in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. It gives hope to the millions of people affected by this cruel disease, and of course to their families. If you or a loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease, this new drug certainly gives hope. But it’s important that you work with your medical doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs and circumstances. This may include the potential use of Lecamenab, but also other therapies already in teh market.

In short: it’s important that you carefully consider the risks and benefits of the drug and discuss any concerns with a professional.

Conclusion (and ways to help)

While Leqembi price is quite steep and its efectiveness is yet to be discovered, there is no doubt that the approval of Leqembi / lecanemab is amazing news, especially for people struggling with Alzheimer’s and their families. Whether or not it’s the ultimate solution to Alzheimer’s, it’s definitely a pacesetter for new drugs to be developed in the near future.

Leqembi / lecanemab news : Race to End Alzheimer's picture

If you’d like to support the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, we encourage you to visit Race to End Alzheimer’s, a place dedicated to funding Alzheimer’s research through community support. We get nothing in return, but we sincerely believe this is a very good deed.

Note: this article was modified and updated with new information on January 10, 2023

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