What are the latest treatments for Alzheimer’s?

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Detecting Alzheimer’s disease, as well as developing medications to ease the symptoms, has made some advancement during 2012.  This is positive news since scientists have noted that by the year 2050; close to 14 million people will have Alzheimer’s disease, at an annual cost of more than $1 trillion.

Dr. Alois Alzheimer first discovered the disease back in 1906.  Over the last 106 years, the only guaranteed way to determine if a person had Alzheimer’s disease was to complete an autopsy on a patient’s brain and find the buildup of amyloid plaque.  However, in April 2012, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved an agent called Amyvid.

What is Amyvid?

Amyvid is a diagnostic radioactive agent for PET Imaging that can confirm a patient does not have Alzheimer’s disease.  The agent was initially discovered by Dr. Daniel Skovronsky at Avid  Radiopharmaceuticals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Since 2010, Indianapolis based Eli Lilly and Company acquired Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.

How does Amyvid work?

During a PET scan using the Amyvid agent, a negative scan indicates minimal to no neuritic plaques.  In other words, a negative scan decreases the likelihood that a cognitive impairment is linked to the Alzheimer’s disease.  However, a positive test result does not necessarily indicate a patient has Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders.  Amyvid is just one additional tool to other diagnostic evaluations.

How much does agent Amyvid cost?

The average cost for a PET scan with the Amyvid agent is estimated at $1,600 per scan.  Currently, the scan is not covered by Medicare.  Although it is a FDA approved procedure, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services doesn’t deem the test “as reasonable and necessary” as a diagnostic procedure.

New Alzheimer drug trials

There is a race between two pharmaceutical giants for conducting drug trials on the safety and effectiveness of a BACE inhibitor.  Beta secretase inhibitors are a new class of pharmaceuticals that are on the forefront of treating Alzheimer’s.

The Merck & Co Alzheimer Drug trial

Trials are underway to determine the effectiveness and safety of the new BACE inhibitor called MK-8931.  The trial consists of patients in the mild- to- moderate category of Alzheimer’s disease.  The goal of the Merck& Co drug trial is to prevent the worsening of symptoms among the patients with mild- to- moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  In order to achieve this goal, Merck is hoping to prevent the main component of brain plaque called beta amyloid.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly is also testing a beta secretase inhibitor along with a new experimental drug called solanezumad.  Unfortunately, the initial trial results of solanezumad  failed its overall goal of delaying cognitive and physical decline in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s.  However, it did show promising results in slowing cognitive decline in patients with mild symptoms.  Lilly is on schedule to launch another late-stage study of solanezumad  no later than the third quarter of 2013.

Other Alzheimer drug trials in 2012

Alzheimer Late –stage drug trials for Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy unit by Johnson and Johnson as well as Bapineuzumab by Pfizer Inc., showed disappointing results last summer.  However, a drug trial study conducted by Baxter International should conclude at the end of 2012.  Look for posted results by the second quarter of 2013.

The race for having a drug to treat Alzheimer cannot come soon enough.  Today, close to 5.4 million Americans have the disease which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Sources:  http://newroom.lilly.com, www.elsevierbi.com

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I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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