FDA approves a second Alzheimer’s drug that can modestly slow disease

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Kisunla, developed by Eli Lilly, to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease for individuals with early or mild stages of dementia. This approval follows the FDA’s approval of a similar drug called Leqembi from Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai. Although the approved drugs only bring about a modest delay in cognitive decline — roughly seven months for Lilly’s Kisunla— this new treatment option will prove beneficial to patients and healthcare professionals.

As an laboratory-produced antibody administered by intravenous infusions, Kisunla aims to target plaque buildup in the brain, regarded as one of the significant contributors to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. As with other plaque-targeting drugs, brain swelling and bleeding are main safety concerns regarding this treatment, and the rates documented during Lilly’s research revealed slightly higher incidents than experienced with Leqembi; however, it’s challenging to ascertain the comparability of the medications since they were studied in marginally dissimilar types of patient profiles.

The logistical steps of setting up treatment locations for patients with dementia and ensuring scans check for brain swelling or bleeding complications, pose hurdles, along with concerns involving accessibility to insurance coverage for care. Despite the challenges, regular administration of Kisunla intravenously once a month, stands out as potentially more convenient as an alternative to Leqembi, requiring twice monthly doses. An additional significant detail lies in the capacity for individuals who respond favorably to ceasing Kisunla intake. Based on preliminary results from the research, approximately 47% of the trial participants required suspension of Kisunla, once the plaque buildup within their brain came near to undetectable levels; consequently, temporary cessation can help manage costs and health hazards associated with continuous usage in the long term.

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