First new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease approved in nearly two decades offers hope for people living with dementia

Canada
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Alzheimer Society of Canada calls for more investment in dementia research.

Senior woman and her granddaughter.

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The Alzheimer Society of Canada is hopeful about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of aducanumab, a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This news represents an important step forward for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA requires that Biogen complete an additional clinical trial to verify the drug’s benefit. If the trial fails to verify the clinical benefit, the FDA may initiate proceedings to withdraw approval. For aducanumab to be available in Canada, the drug will require regulatory approval by Health Canada to ensure its safety and efficacy. The Alzheimer Society of Canada is urging Health Canada to complete its required reviews swiftly, while maintaining the highest safety standards, so that aducanumab can be made available as quickly as possible to people living with dementia in Canada.

While this approval is encouraging, aducanumab is not suitable for all people at all stages of dementia. The drug may slow the decline in cognitive skills and functional ability in people living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab is reported to work by clearing harmful amyloid beta that builds up in the brain, which is thought to result in Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, Chief Research & Knowledge, Translation and Exchange (KTE) Officer
Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, Chief Science Officer at the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

“Over the next 10 years, we anticipate that more than one million people in Canada will be living with dementia. The approval of aducanumab underscores how investing in research can lead to better treatment options, but the drug is just one treatment,” says Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer Society of Canada. “Research for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is significantly under-funded when compared to other diseases. There is an urgent need to invest in dementia research to provide people living with the disease new and better treatments. Most importantly, research investment is crucial to finding cures for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is committed to funding innovative dementia research focused on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and finding cures for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

What is aducanumab?

Aducanumab is the newest clinical treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly two decades, recently approved in the U.S. It is not yet approved in Canada. Find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about aducanumab below.

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Healthcare provider showing a senior woman in her care something on her tablet.