12 June 2021 - It may offer false hope and divert resources from more promising therapies.
On 7 June America’s FDA approved the first new drug since 2003 to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The euphoric reaction in some quarters is understandable. A century of research has produced no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, which is marked by ever-worsening cognitive decline, and accounts for 60-80% of cases of dementia, a condition affecting perhaps 50 million people worldwide and becoming ever more common as the world ages.
But, sadly, the FDA admits that it is not proven that the new drug, a monoclonal antibody to be sold under the name Aduhelm, actually works. The approval is misguided. It risks raising unrealistic expectations, wreaking financial harm on health care systems, damaging the FDA’s reputation for scientific impartiality and perhaps even diverting attention from more hopeful approaches to treating dementia.