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FDA approves first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 12:19 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The food and drug administration approved a new, experimental drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

While some non-profits are unsure if the medication should be approved, the Alzheimer’s Association does support it.

Biogen’s medication is called Aducanumab and its the first time there’s been a drug approved that’s aimed to slow the progression of the disease.

“As soon as you get an Alzheimer’s diagnosis it’s really all about time. You’re wondering how much time will I have to retain the memories that I have so that I can continue to live my life the way I want to,” said Alzheimer’s Association State Executive Director Leslie Morrow.

As of 2020, 18,000 South Dakotans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The new approval is expected to give them and their families more of that precious time.

“Either it let’s them hold on to some memories longer. It maybe helps them continue to golf, continue to do things that they love to do. So, we’re so happy for families that will be able to have this at their disposal,” said Morrow.

Jean Lipetsky is all too familiar with the impact an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can have on a family. Her older sister Mary Ellen was diagnosed with the disease in 2015.

“I retired a little early last with the anticipation of spending as much time, being that she was at that point in memory care, spending as much time as I could,” said Lipetzky.

While the newly approved medication won’t have much impact on Mary Ellen’s health, Jean has hope for other families that are in the early stages of the diagnosis.

“That will impact everyone and the cost of not only for families but our care-systems on the national level because they will be able to live a much more fulfilling later years,” said Lipetzky.

Those later years for Jean’s sister would prove to be precious memories, ones she wishes Mary Ellen could remember now.

“Years ago my sister had given a baby up for adoption. They ended up marrying and never having any other children,” said Jean.

Mary Ellen was able to meet her son and his family in 2018, but her memory of that day didn’t last.

“That memory is all lost now. You just kind of think if that if that was something that she could have that treatment and be able to remember that and the joy of that,” said Jean.

“When I think of other people that will have this experience, hold on to those memories, hold on to that independence and be able to do things that they were not able to do anymore.”

The Alzheimer’s Association says you can call the number 605-339-4543 with any questions about the disease or about the newly approved medication.

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