Health: Priority Review for Alzheimer’s Treatment

The Story:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to grant priority review to Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s medication, aducanumab. If approved, aducanumab will be the first drug marketed to slow the progression of the root cause of the syndrome, the misfolding and bunching-up of a protein, amyloid beta.


Alzheimer’s is a progressive degeneration of brain cells that typically manifests as memory loss and proceeds through language problems, disorientation, behavioral issues, and in time, death. The period from diagnosis to death can range from three to seven years.

The progressive nature of Alzheimer’s often places an enormous strain upon a patient’s primary caregiver, often a spouse or close relative. The direct and indirect costs it can impose are high; it limits the caregiver’s ability to earn the money to afford those costs; and the high psychological stress means that caregivers themselves often need care.

The Thing to Know:

In the course of research in recent years, the prospects for aducanumab as an efficacious treatment have had dramatics ups and downs. As it stands, this will not be the “magic bullet” for which many have hoped, but it could well bring some relief and a slowing of the disease process to a significant portion of the patient population.

The FDA could render an approval decision on aducanumab as early as March 2021.


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