Am I Excited About the New Alzheimer’s Drug…..Am I Going to Take It?

On June 7, 2021 the FDA approved a drug called Aducabanumab which is manufactured by Biogen. It will be sold under the name Aduhelm. It is a monthly intravenous infusion intended to slow cognitive decline in people with mild memory and thinking problems. It is the first approved treatment to attack the disease process of Alzheimer’s instead of just addressing dementia symptoms. As many of you know I have been praying for a cure, or something will slow down the disease. I don’t think this is it and I don’t think it should have been approved by the FDA.

I know three people who have been involved in the trial of this drug and they have been praying for approval. I am happy for them that they got their wish. I on the other hand feel this is a setback for the Alzheimer’s movement. This drug has significant issues during the trials that they conducted. I was invited to attend two different international Alzheimer’s research conferences in the last year where Aducabanumab was discussed at length by the researchers. They felt that there were too many concerns about the efficacy of the drug and more importantly the side effects ( ex: brain bleeds especially for people with the APOE4 gene (I have two) were too concerning to ignore. Also, Biogen skilled Phase 2 of the trial which is the “learn and confirm phase”. You can learn more about how the trials were conducted here.

I then met with my neurologist at the Alzheimers Institute where I receive my treatment for her opinion. She said that there is a huge amount of pressure to approve something and bring it to market and that she does not feel this drug has been fully vetted nor is it safe. There is plenty of evidence to support her comments. At the November 6, 2020 meeting of the FDA advisory committee voted overwhelmingly against approval. Then in January of 2021, Biogen submitted more data to try to refute the November 6 findings, and the Alzheimer’s Association and Biogen went into high gear touting the benefits of this drug. On June 7, 2021 the FDA approved it recognizing that clinical trials of the drug had provided incomplete evidence to demonstrate effectiveness, the F.D.A. granted approval for the drug to be used but required Biogen to conduct a new clinical trial.If the new trial, called a Phase 4 trial, fails to show the drug is effective, the F.D.A. can — but is not required to — rescind its approval. This New York Times article summarizes the situation very well.

The cost of this drug is $56,000 annually, and also requires tens of thousands of dollars for diagnostic testing and brain imaging. The average person does not have this kind of money and to put their eggs in one basket for a drug that has such mediocre results is ludicrous. I want something to slow down the progression of my Alzheimer’s more than anyone but I am nobody’s fool. I do not trust the FDA as far as I can throw them. How many other drugs and products have they approved that have proved dangerous for us. Just look at all the.ads on TV and the warnings about all their side effects.

At this point, I am disappointed in the FDA for approving it thus far. I know they can change their mind after this last trial, but they are giving false hope to those of us with Alzheimer’s. I am also disappointed in the Alzheimer’s Association which I have spent 10 year supporting and fundraising for. A lot of money went into lobbying the FDA and advertising for support of this drug. That is money that could have been invested in continuing to focus on finding a cure that works. It seems like the Alzheimer’s Association needed a “win” in their column, but it seems like they have taken their eye off the prize.

Even if I wanted to take this drug, I can’t because I have a pacemaker that is not MRI compatible and it requires regular MRIs. Also, with two APOE4 genes I don’t think it would be prudent for me to do so. For those of you who have dementia or Alzheimer’s who do take it I pray that it is effective for you and does not cause you any problems.

Not today, Alzheimer’s not today!

10 thoughts on “Am I Excited About the New Alzheimer’s Drug…..Am I Going to Take It?

  1. Kelly, I thought of you immediately when I saw the news about the approval of the Biogen drug, and am saddened to learn it isn’t what you had hoped for. I know you are actively searching for something to help you, and am too disappointed in the many ‘ifs’ of this drug. I hope you’ll continue to fight for yourself and others, and don’t give up!!!!

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    1. Thanks Serena. Yes, I have continued hope that they will find a cure. This approval was disheartening. Seems like a rush to put something out there that is not effective or proven yet.

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  2. Kelly,
    This new drug is very concerning and I am disappointed that the FDA approved it. I have one APOE4 gene and one APOE3 gene. Since I already have documented small TIA’s, along with the APOE4 gene, I feel this would definitely NOT be a drug I would take. I hope everyone who takes this drug thoroughly researches it and weighs the risk.
    I also hope that those who decide to take this drug stay safe and healthy and that they get the cure they are looking for.

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  3. Hi,

    I am saddened to read your message and discover this may not be beneficial to you. When Sandy and I heard about this new drug, we instantly thought of you and were hopeful this would possibly work for you.

    You are wise to continue your own research and make an informed decision regarding your care and treatments.

    Bob

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  4. Kelly…I am very saddened this drug is not what you had hoped for. I agree with you that everyone is just looking for a win at any cost. I continue to pray for you and think about you all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Kelly,

    I have been reading your blog posts for a little over a year now. My mom had dementia and eventually died from it in 2017 at age 77 as did her mom before her in 2003. I am 57 and interested in keeping my brain healthy as I age. Your experience caught my attention. I am encouraged by your bravery. 💕

    As you are most likely aware, Alzheimer’s is a complex condition and no two people are alike. It isn’t likely there is a one size fits all treatment (drug). Many people hope for that, maybe one day there will be a drug that can adapt to individuals. I don’t know, but in the meantime, I know you have found natural things that help you. Maybe you can’t claim a cure, bit you are living as well as you can!

    Have you ever seen the APOE4 website below? It’s a discussion group and database for people who are APOE4 positive or those who care for relatives with APOE4 genes or other dementia related disorders. They share natural protocols and information on how APOE4 affects the prognosis of AD. Both doctors and non-medical people participate. In case you weren’t aware, I thought I would share. It’s not drug focused, nothing is sold, it’s run by volunteers (I am one of them) and offers more natural holistic information than you can find in one place than anywhere else Inknow of. You may find it interesting and possibly helpful in some way.

    When I read you are APOE4 positive, I thought the support of other APOE4 positive people could be encouraging to you on your journey. 😊

    http://www.apoe4.info

    Warmly,
    Rachel

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  6. Kelly, I wanted to send a note to say I just heard from a prior EDSer about your blog. It is an encouragement as I read it. It sounds just like you, plan, attack, execute. I was on your SEPG team in Mike Fischer’s organization. I was your QA lead. I had a great time working with you. I learned alot. I am still in the IT world using QA. It’s been a great journey. I am also a Pastor’s wife since 2004. http://www.westsidebaptist.info. We live in west Michigan. I am thankful that Christ has much comfort to offer. He is the best in the worst of situations. I have found when the worst is occurring in my life that is when I can count on Him most. His ways are above ours. I am praying for you and your family. You are courageous. God bless you.

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    1. Hi Jill……so nice to hear from you! It made my day.Yes, I am attacking my disease the same way I approached my job. With thought and precision. I am doing pretty well but things are starting to deteriorate a bit. It seems like it is one foot forward and two back nowadays. But I am staying positive, planning lots of travel and praying for the best while planning for the worst. I also have a spiritual advisor who used to work for EDS who is a great comfort. Take care, Jill. I’m on Facebook if you want to friend me!

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