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‘It’s remarkable, it’s very exciting’: Alzheimer’s Association Chapter leaders celebrate FDA approval of new treatment

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 11:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Monday, the FDA approved Aduhelm (also known as aducanumab).

The drug is designed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in early and mild cases, and it’s the first treatment approved in nearly 20 years for the disease.

Clinical success in slowing the disease has been mixed, but the FDA approved the drug in order to fill an unmet medical need. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.

The FDA will monitor the results of the treatment and there will be an ongoing clinical trial.

Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina VP of Communications and Advocacy Beth Sulkowski said the association is “entirely pleased” with the FDA’s decision.

“I’ve been working with the Alzheimer’s Association for 15 years, we’ve had nothing new hit the market in that time. To see something that is potentially a gamechanger for people in those early stages. It’s remarkable, it’s very exciting,” she said.

Association data shows that as of January 2021, 106,223 South Carolinians were living with the disease.

6,375 of them were living in Richland County.

The disease took a toll on the state over the last year, with CDC data showing 1,093 excess deaths (more than statistically expected) since Feb. 2020.

When pressed on the issue of mixed clinical results, Sulkowski stressed the benefits outweigh the risks.

“There is really compelling data from the existing clinical trials to show that for the first time, functional decline is measurably slowed, and that again is a hope that we have never had before,” she said.

She said the association supports the ongoing studies and research.

The association puts on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to help fund research on Alzheimer’s.

RELATED STORY | This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Columbia moves to sidewalks and trails

Director of Development for Alzheimer’s Association Midlands Alexis Watts said she’s organized the walk for the last eight years and said it’s good to see her faith rewarded.

She said she lost her grandmother to the disease in 2001.

“I hope that 20 years from now, I’ll be old enough to tell my children that Alzheimer’s Disease is not something they’ll have to worry about with me,” she said.

Sulkowski said patients interested in the treatment should ask their doctors about the treatment soon to get access.

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