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FDA approves first new Alzheimer's Disease medication in nearly 20 years

“At least according to friends and family, they feel I’m better off now than when I started,” said a Houston man who participated in the drug's clinical trial.

HOUSTON — The FDA has approved a new medication that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s called Aduhelm, or aducanumab.

Retired physician Robert Kaminsky first noticed symptoms of cognitive loss in 2015. He decided to get an evaluation, because he has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. He has been part of the clinical trial for aducanumab since 2016.

“At least according to friends and family, they feel I’m better off now than when I started,” said Kaminsky.

Studies have found the treatment reduces the buildup of a protein in the brain, which is a marker of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, some doctors aren’t convinced it actually helps with memory loss, which is why the FDA has ordered Biogen continue its trials.

Dr. Melissa Yu leads the ongoing study at Baylor College of Medicine.

“It’s a controversial medication. Not all patients will benefit. Some will be some side effects, but there will be a subset of patients who will have some benefit from this medication,” said Yu, a neurologist.

She hopes this new development will make people see a doctor sooner. She’s glad to have another option to offer patients.

“We definitely have patients who show up and it’s too late. It’s too late to do some of those early interventions, because their early forgetfulness has been blown off as age related stuff,” she said.

Kaminsky is one of only 18 patients who participated in the Houston trial.

“I think it’s wonderful, because there really has not been any effective treatment for Alzheimer’s problems that we know of,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to have received this drug before it was approved. Now that it has FDA approval, I feel I’ve gotten a jump on things and don’t have the progression of disease I might have expected.”

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