An Alzheimer’s drug is on the way, but getting it may still be tough. Here’s why

The first Alzheimer’s drug with potential to slow disease progression may receive FDA approval by July 6; however, accessing the drug could be challenging for patients.

Upcoming drug: Lecanemab, shown to remove amyloid-beta from the brains of early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, could receive full FDA approval soon.
* Conditional approval was granted in January, but most Medicare patients cannot access the drug until full approval is granted.

Challenges after approval: Medicare will require doctors to participate in a registry to track the drug’s safety and effectiveness, which may discourage some from prescribing it.
* Inadequate coverage for brain scans and related services could also create obstacles.
* Doctors and medical facilities may need to meet certain criteria in order to provide treatment.

Limited applicability: Lecanemab’s high cost and modest benefit may deter some patients.
* Eisai, the drug’s maker, estimates the yearly cost at $26,500, not including diagnostic and follow-up tests.
* The drug may not be suitable for those with advanced Alzheimer’s or those taking blood thinners.

Infrastructure concerns: The U.S. healthcare system may not have enough memory specialists or infusion clinics to accommodate the potential patient demand for lecanemab.

View original article on NPR

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