The Food and Drug Administration has fully approved the first drug shown to slow down Alzheimer's disease.
The action means that Leqembi, whose generic name is lecanemab, should be widely covered by the federal Medicare health insurance program, which primarily serves adults age 65 and older. So more people who are in the early stages of the disease will have access to the drug – and be able to afford it.
"It's not something that's going to stop the disease or reverse it," says Dr . Sanjeev Vaishnavi, director of clinical research at the Penn Memory Center. "But it may slow down progression of the disease and may give people more meaningful time with their families."
In studies reviewed by the FDA, Leqembi appeared to slow declines in memory and thinking by about 27% after 18 months of treatment. It also dramatically reduced the sticky beta-amyloid plaques that tend to build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.