More than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Because of this, it is not surprising that Biotech made news when they announced a new drug to treat this disease. Despite Adulhelm being the first treatment for Alzheimer’s since 2003, the medical community has questioned its safety, as at least one death has been associated with this drug since its release.
What is Adulhelm?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Adulhelm to treat Alzheimer’s disease in early June 2021. According to the FDA, this drug can slow down Alzheimer’s progression by reducing the levels of amyloid plaque. Amyloid plaque is a protein that builds up in the brains of patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s, causing them to have memory problems. Adulhelm also lowers levels of tau, another protein that compromises nerve function. The results of this drug may sound promising, but there have been some problems with it.
The possible dangers of this new drug
The approval of this drug was frowned upon by many in the medical community because the FDA approved the drug faster than usual. Additionally, some are doubtful about the safety of this drug, as one of its side effects includes brain swelling and bleeding, also known as amyloid-relating imaging abnormality (ARIA). The medical community’s suspicions grew even more when the FDA recorded three cases of Adulhelm users being hospitalized and one person dying because of ARIA.
The uncertain future
Whether these hospitalizations and death were strictly related to the use of the drug is still unknown. According to Reuters, Biogen is reviewing the drug’s side effects and investigating these cases. The company has been clear that only .03% of their patients suffered symptoms of ARIA in their clinical trials. However, only time and research will tell if this drug is truly safe for those suffering from this memory stealing disease.