UW study increases access to expensive Alzheimer’s treatment

22 July 2023

More people will have access to a new treatment for Alzheimer’s — thanks to a University of Washington (UW) study called AHEAD.

People between the ages of 55 to 80 who are at high risk for Alzheimer’s will be eligible for the study — and will get no-cost access to Lecanemab — which has an annual estimated cost of more than $26,000.

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Lecanemab, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, is the first traditionally-approved treatment that addresses the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s and changes the course of the disease in a meaningful way for people in the early stages.

“It’s been over 20 years since the last Alzheimer’s drug was approved by the FDA so this is a really exciting moment,” UW Medicine behavioral neurologist Michael Rosenbloom, M.D. told KIRO Newsradio.

Lecanemab slowed participants’ cognitive and functional decline by 27% over the course of 18 months during Clarity AD trials, Rosenbloom said, adding that the drug’s longer-term effectiveness is not well understood.

“When you see multiple drugs of the same class meeting the primary outcome measures, this shows that this is not a fluke. We have a real disease-modifying agent that is beneficial for patients,” Rosenbloom said in a prepared statement. “When I became a behavioral neurologist over 13 years ago, the idea of having a disease-modifying drug sounded like science fiction.”

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The AHEAD study will further measure and monitor the influence of Lecanemab. UW Medicine is one of nearly 75 locations enrolling for the study across the United States and Canada.

“For the first time, we have a drug that is approved for Alzheimer’s disease that is developed to be disease-modifying and actually met its primary outcome measures,” Rosenbloom said.

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