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Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma hopeful for new FDA-approved drug

TULSA, Okla. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a medication to fight Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’re really excited about it. We were advocating for approval by the FDA,” said Jacob Guinan with the Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma.

Leqembi was approved through the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway, which grants earlier approval to drugs that treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need.

The Alzheimer’s Association says the drug could help millions of people in the early stages of the disease.

“This potentially could have a real impact for people who are living with Alzheimer’s and their families,” Guinan said.

The drug could slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease for people who are in mild cognitive impairment or the early stages of the disease.

“That’s the stage of the disease when people are still able to have meaningful moments with their families. They’re still able to have legal capacity and make plans for the future. They’re still able to remember their loved ones’ names. They’re still able to have those meaningful moments like the birth of a grandchild or a graduation,” he said.

Guinan said there is a dilemma for getting the new drug into the hands of anyone who would benefit from it.

Without Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and insurance coverage of this treatment and others in its class, access for those who could benefit from the newly-approved treatment will only be available to those who can pay out-of-pocket.

“This kind of class of drug right now, because of a decision by the Center of the Medicaid and Medicare services, is not being covered by Medicare and insurance right now, so access isn’t quite there for everybody, but the Alzheimer’s Association, our stance is that we believe the decision should be changed,” he said.

For more information on diagnosis or to find a local health care provider, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org, or the helpline 24/7 at 800-272-3900.

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