Last Updated June 9, 2021
Our team at the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center was excited to learn about the FDA’s approval of aducanumab (brand name Aduhelm) for use in certain individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and would like to share some information about this newest therapy with our patients and community.
- Aducanumab works by removing the amyloid plaques that build up in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. Through this mechanism, it can slow, to some extent, the progression of the disease.
- Aducanumab is given intravenously on a monthly basis. Due to potential side effects, a person taking this drug has to have ongoing monitoring.
- The medication is not for everyone. It has only been shown to be effective in those with the mildest symptoms of Alzheimer’s. There is debate about the quality of the evidence and the size of the benefit. Your medical provider at the Memory and Brain Wellness Center will help determine if you would be a candidate for this medication. Most patients will need additional tests in order to make this determination.
- The Memory and Brain Wellness Center is in the process of implementing the system resources necessary to administer and monitor this medication. For updated information about aducanumab and to keep abreast of when this therapy will be available at the Memory and Brain Wellness Center, please visit this page: depts.washington.edu/mbwc/resources/aducanumab
More information about this decision
- The FDA Announcement: FDA’s Decision to Approve New Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease by Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, Director, FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
- National Institute on Aging (NIA) statement: FDA approval of aducanumab for Alzheimer’s disease
- New York Times coverage: FDA Approves Alzheimer’s Drug Despite Fierce Debate Over Whether It Works
- Times coverage The First Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease Is Here
- STAT News coverage FDA grants historic approval to Alzheimer’s drug designed to slow cognitive decline / A landmark Alzheimer’s drug approval would likely deepen racial inequities in dementia care
Local Coverage and Reactions
The Alzheimer's Association: It’s a New Day in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s — Aducanumab Approved
- Seattle Times Opinion, June 16, 2021: The benefits and risks of the new Alzheimer’s drug by Thomas J. Grabowski and Charles Bernick
- Join the Alzheimer's Association for a special, free public scientific discussion, Dialogue: Current Perspectives on Aducanumab on Monday, June 21 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT. If you would like to attend this virtual event held over Zoom, please register here.
The goal of this public scientific discussion will be to provide a balanced collegial dialog with an opportunity to understand the science behind aducanumab, discuss publicly available data surrounding the complexity of the clinical trial results, discuss what we know about the diagnostic biomarkers used to enroll in the trial, and the FDA label which dictates which populations this drug will benefit based on the evidence reviewed. We will also address the perspectives of the individual with Alzheimer’s and their carers, as we venture into this historic moment for the Alzheimer’s field. Lastly, we will engage in a conversation about what the future for the clinical community will look like, what safety and infrastructure needs will be in the immediate and longer term, and what the payer/reimbursement perspective could be. This will be a 4 hour event from 8 am - 12 pm PT. The format consists of panel discussions with interactive Q&A opportunities for the attendees. More information regarding the event program will be sent to those who register.
The recording will be available to watch on this page a day or two later: https://www.alz.org/research/for_researchers/grants/research-webinars