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 buildup of amyloid protein in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab does not stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease.
Who is aducanumab for?
Aducanumab is for people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and will require a prescription. 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. It did not help people who have progressed beyond mild stages of Alzheimer disease.
How does aducanumab work?
Aducanumab is an 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 mark amyloid protein, enabling the immune system to gradually remove the protein from the brain.
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). This is leakiness of blood vessels and swelling in the brain that is thought to be caused by removing amyloid protein. Periodic brain MRI scans are required during treatment with aducanumab to monitor any changes.
How is aducanumab administered?
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). 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.
Will Cleveland Clinic administer aducanumab to patients?
A multidisciplinary panel of Cleveland Clinic experts has reviewed all available scientific evidence on this medication. Based on the current data regarding its safety and efficacy, Cleveland Clinic has decided not to carry Aducanumab at this time. However, we support continued research in this area, and when additional data become available, we will re-evaluate this medication for use in our patients.
Can my Cleveland Clinic physician prescribe aducanumab?
While Cleveland Clinic will not carry or administer the drug, an individual physician can prescribe it to appropriate patients. Those patients would receive their infusion at an outside facility.
I am a patient at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. How can I be evaluated for aducanumab?
You can talk to 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 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. Then, you can 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 be started only after careful consideration. 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.
Still have questions?
Contact us at [email protected].