June 7, 2021 | Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn dementia expert on newly approved Alzheimer’s drug: ‘The data aren’t strong enough’

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Well before the FDA approved aducanumab, the first new Alzheimer’s drug since 2003, many dementia experts were lining up to criticize the monoclonal antibody. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, was among them.

In an article published late last month in STAT, a health news website, he said he would not recommend aducanumab, if approved, to patients. That stance will be hard to maintain now that the drug has been approved, he said Tuesday, but he will insist on serious conversations with patients and families about risks and benefits before prescribing a drug he thinks did not receive adequate testing.

The medication, which could cost up to $56,000 per year, was tested in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild dementia in two Phase 3 clinical trials, but both were stopped early, and they yielded conflicting results.

Karlawish, who is the author of a new book, The Problem of Alzheimer’s: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It, answered some questions about the new drug, whose brand name is Aduhelm.

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