Update: On the 6th of January 2023, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the application to license lecanemab (which will be marketed under the name 'Leqembi') . This means doctors in the United States can now prescribe the drug for the treatment of mild Alzheimer's disease. At the moment medical insurance companies in the US will not cover the price of the drug outside of use in clinical trials but further discussions about this coverage are ongoing. The UK has it's own regulatory bodies and so makes it own decisions on whether a drug will be approved for clinical use - and then whether the NHS will cover the cost of the drug. The pharmaceutical company that manufacture lecanemab have indicated that they intend to apply for UK licensing approval later this year. We'll keep these pages updated as more news emerges so check back for the latest developments.
Full study data have now been released from the successful trial of the drug "lecanemab" for early Alzheimer's disease. We first heard indications of positive results for lecanemab back in September this year and scientists have been eagerly awaiting the release of the full report. The study showed that over a period of 18 months people taking the medication showed a reduction in key markers of Alzheimer's disease on brain scans and also experienced a slower rate of decline in memory and thinking skills and in their ability to carry our daily tasks compared to those not on the medication.
Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland reacted to this promising news:
“Alzheimer Scotland very much welcomes this exciting development in the treatment of early Alzheimer’s disease. This is the first new drug to show both a decline in disease progression in the brain and a slowing of decline in cognitive function. In our view it is a very meaningful breakthrough and heralds a new era for Alzheimer’s treatments. However, there is a long way to go before lecanemab is approved and available on the NHS. There are a significant number of side effects reported by those participating in the trial. So, more trials are needed to ensure the safety, and we hope this will progress at pace.
These new developments are one of the main reasons we are working so hard through our Brain Health Scotland initiative to establish and test new forms of early detection, prevention and Brain Health Clinics. We are working with partners across the NHS to ensure our health care system is ready in Scotland to make use of these new treatments once they are fully approved, to deliver the right treatment to the right patient, at the right time.
We also hope that Scotland will attract more trials of this nature and build an ongoing sense of hope in the future. Now is a good time to increase the number of people in Scotland who are signed up to participate in future research and we would encourage those who are interested to register with Join Dementia Research and help achieve our goals of Prevent, Care and Cure.
After such a long time of waiting for progress, we can look forward now with hope. The many thousands of people living with dementia in Scotland today will likely not benefit from these drugs, but we will continue to ensure they receive the care and support they need to live well with dementia. We want to acknowledge the bravery and commitment of people living with dementia and the Scottish Dementia Working Group, who have campaigned so tirelessly and participated in research knowing that the benefit would be felt by future generations.”
Read more about the latest lecanemab trial results here.