There’s a new drug on the market to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It’s marketed under the name Leqembi but a lot of people know it as Lecanemab. The FDA has recently (January 6th, 2023) approved Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s and other forms of mild cognitive decline. Studies have shown that the drug may slow down the effects of early cognitive decline.
We have a lot of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline in our assisted living homes around Surprise, Goodyear and Mesa Arizona.
It is definitely not a cure though. Let’s get into how it might help people.
What are the Benefits of Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s?
The FDA approved Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s based on a clinical trial of 1795 participants. The study divided the participants into two groups – one who received the drug and one who received a placebo. After 18 months, the group receiving the drug showed a 27% slower rate of cognitive decline than the placebo group and a 37% slowing of decline in a measure of daily living activities.
There was also a substudy of 698 participants that found Lecanemab reduced the production of amyloid plaques more than a placebo.
Of course there are calls at the end of both studies for more longer term studies.
Either way, anything that can slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease should be welcome. As with all medical interventions, the earlier you start treating the disease, the better.
Side Effects of Lecanemab (Leqembi)
There are some potential side effects with taking this drug, mostly centered around the way you take the drug. When a doctor gives a patient Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s, they have to do it through an IV. The infusion may cause:
- A fever
- Body aches or
- A rash.
The side effects are generally mild, and mostly happened just after the first dose. Most of the reactions ranged from mild to moderate. If the side effects last after the first dose, medical professionals can administer other medications.
A smaller amount of trial participants had edema, or fluid formation on the brain. Generally the edema doesn’t cause any symptoms. But the doctors can see it on x-ray imaging. If there are symptoms, your doctor would just stop the medication until the edema went away.
There have been a few brain bleeds in rare cases. Generally those brain bleeds are very minor. Up to now (Feb 2023) there have not been any major problems with brain bleeds. Most of the issues are millimeter tears. People with Alzheimer’s are more susceptible to this in general.
The good news about the side effects that happen when you take Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s are much less than other drugs that people take for Alzheimer’s.
Another big side effect may be the change in your savings. Leqembi (Lecanemab) will set someone back over $26,000 per year for the treatment. Most of the cost will probably be picked up by insurance, but that is still a steep price!
The track record for Dementia drugs has not been stellar. Just like many of the other drugs, the idea behind Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s is to reduce the Amyloid plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. However, there is a lot of evidence that amyloid plaques are actually protecting your brain rather than destroying it:
Nevertheless it’s great that there is hope for Lecanemab and slowing the progression of this dread disease. Do you have a family member who is taking Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s? Please let us know in the comments below.