The FDA has approved the medicine aducanumab, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This is the first new Alzheimer’s drug approved in 18 years and the first therapy that can slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease, not just treat its symptoms.
Please note: The distribution of aducanumab is an evolving process. Information included below is the latest available. We will continue to update this page as more information on the distribution of aducanumab is released.
What does aducanumab do?
In research, aducanumab has been shown to gradually remove abnormal build-up of the protein, amyloid, in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease. In people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, removal of amyloid can help to slow disease progression. Aducanumab does not completely stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease.
Who is aducanumab for?
As with any medical treatment, appropriateness depends on a variety of factors.
What is aducanumab NOT for?
Aducanumab is not for use in any dementia other than Alzheimer’s.
How do I know if aducanumab is right for me or my loved one?
Aducanumab is for people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and will require a prescription. We are currently in the process of evaluating our patients for the appropriateness of treatment.
How does aducanumab work?
Aducanumab is amonoclonal antibody. In our bodies, antibodies “mark” or “label” molecules that need to be removed by the immune system. Normally, these are bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Aducanumab was manufactured to stick to amyloid protein, enabling the immune system to gradually remove the protein from the brain. Aducanumab is delivered via an infusion — directly into the vein through a needle or catheter — once a month. The length of each infusion appointment varies from 1 to 3 hours. Aducanumab must be administered over the long-term (at least a year) for maximum benefit.
Is aducanumab safe?
Like any medication, aducanumab also has side effects. The side effect seen most commonly during the studies was amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA): removing of amyloid may cause leakiness of blood vessels and swelling in the brain. Regular brain MRI scans are required during treatment with aducanumab to monitor any changes.
When will aducanumab be available for the public?
This medication is being administered via infusion, which is a more intensive and expensive process than for any previous Alzheimer’s treatment. Aducanumab will also require evaluations for the presence of amyloid protein and the severity of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as new types of monitoring during treatment. Managing these unprecedented complexities delays availability for clinical use. Based on the information we have today, Biogen, the manufacturer of aducanumab, plans to make the drug available later this year. The medication also needs to be approved for administration by the Cleveland Clinic Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.
I am a patient at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. How can I be evaluated for aducanumab?
You can consult with your neurology provider about aducanumab during your next scheduled appointment. If you do not currently have an appointment scheduled, please contact us or send a MyChart message if you want more information from your provider about aducanumab.
I am NOT a patient at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. How can I be evaluated for aducanumab?
If you are not currently a patient at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health but are interested in being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease, please ask your current doctor to send a referral to Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and then contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our neurology providers.
I am a current patient at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Should I make an appointment to come in sooner?
There is no need to rush treatment with aducanumab. This is a long-term treatment that should not be started lightly. If you have questions about aducanumab or anything else prior to your next scheduled neurology appointment, please send your care team a message via MyChart.
Is aducanumab covered by insurance?
Aducanumab is a billable medication. Direct costs to patients will be determined by your insurance plan’s guidelines.
Still have questions?
Contact us at WebMailResource@ccf.org