(Radio Iowa) New drugs that studies show can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease may soon be available to Iowans. The Food and Drug Administration recently gave full approval to the drug Leqembi. Dr. Lynn Rankin, a clinical neurologist at UnityPoint Health in Des Moines, says researchers have waited three decades for a treatment that could impact the progression of Alzheimer’s, but this new treatment can be intensive.
“Leqembi is a little messy in that it’s an IV every two weeks, and you need baseline MRI and MRIs after the fifth, the seventh and the 14th treatments,” Rankin ays, “so people are going to really have to be committed to receiving this drug and close followup.” Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has also announced it’s seeking FDA approval for its experimental Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab. Rankin says the new drugs may be more of a challenge to distribute in Iowa because the state has a shortage of neurologists.
“We’re gonna have to have neuroradiology on board to do the spinal taps because you have to have a spinal tap to confirm amyloid positivity,” she says. “We’re going to have those neuroradiologists to read the many MRIs they’re going to need.” Rankin says the drugs have been shown to benefit patients who have -mild- cognitive impairment. The Iowa chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 66,000 Iowans living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and another 98,000 Iowans are their caregivers.
(Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio)