A big breakthrough for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease after the FDA approved a new medication, the first of its kind in nearly two decades that could extend the life of your loved one.
Ginny Funk helps families learn and cope with loved ones with Alzheimer’s through the Alzheimer’s Association San Antonio and South Texas Chapter.
"I was in denial for many pieces and parts to it. Here I am trying to educate families and share with them the importance of getting education and a diagnosis and here it was happening right under my nose. It was an awakening for sure," said Funk.
Her mother was a big supporter of her 2-decade long career with the association, and she was diagnosed.
"Mixed dementia. Lost her to more than one. You can have more than one at the same time. As if one isn’t bad enough," she said.
Funk did not get more time with her mother like she hoped, but is hopeful other’s will thanks to the new drug approved by the FDA called Aducanumab.
The treatment is a monthly intravenous infusion intended to slow cognitive decline in people with mild memory and thinking problems.
According to Texas Health and Human Services’ 2021 statistics, Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 6.2 million Americans of all ages. Approximately 400,000 of them are Texans.
Texas ranks second in the number of Alzheimer’s disease deaths.
"To finally have something that has an effect at all is really wonderful. It is kind of like a champagne day. It makes it seem like in my lifetime we are going to have even better treatments. This is huge because it is the first one that worked in phase 3 meaning large trial. It is a wonderful day. I am on a high today," said Dr. Paul Schulz, MD, UTHealth Neurosciences.
Doctor’s say it could be weeks or even months until the treatment is made available to patients.
There are critics that say the benefits of the drug don't outweigh its safety risks, including bleeding and swelling in the brain.