Voices of Alzheimer’s, a newly formed advocacy organization guided and led by people affected by cognitive diseases, has welcomed the announcement of the latest drug to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in those living with the earliest signs of cognitive distress.
The data, said Jim Taylor, President of Voice of Alzheimer’s, is another powerful sign of progress in the development of disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s and additional evidence that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must rethink its blanket refusal to cover the new drugs.
The results released September 28 by Eisai and Biogen showed that their new drug called lecanamab delayed progression of cognitive loss by 27 percent compared to placebo. The companies also said that of the 1,795 people in the study, 25 percent were Hispanic and African American.
“The companies described their test results as highly statistically significant,” Taylor said. “They are also politically significant. Based on these results, we will demand that the federal government change its unfair policies on coverage of Alzheimer’s treatments.”
Voices of Alzheimer’s strongly urged the FDA to give prompt consideration of the newest data and urged speedy approval of the drug. Eisai and Biogen said they would also seek approval by the FDA, and expect a decision in early January.
“The Alzheimer’s community has been praying for a successful result and our prayers have been answered,” said Terrie Montgomery, a founding Board member of Voices of Alzheimer’s who is living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. “We will now turn our attention to our elected leaders and demand that lecanemab and similar treatments, once approved by the FDA, be covered by Medicare and Medicaid to make them accessible to the people who need them.”
Eisai has already started the process for accelerated consideration at the FDA, meaning that a decision by the agency could come as soon as January 2023. At that point, the drug would go to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for a coverage decision.
“It is our strong belief that Medicare has discriminated against people with Alzheimer’s and their families for the last decade by failing to provide coverage for Alzheimer’s diagnostics and FDA-approved treatments,” said Phil Gutis, a founding VOA Board member and person living with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“All people living with Alzheimer’s and their families must let the government know in no uncertain terms that such discrimination is unacceptable and must end,” Gutis added.
“We are entering into a golden age of Alzheimer’s research,” said Jay Reinstein, a founding Board member living with Alzheimer’s. “We now need to enter into an equally golden age of equitable government treatment for people living with cognitive diseases.”