FDA wants to speed up approval for Alzheimer’s drugs

Alzheimer’s disease has gone from the 10th most common cause of death in the United States to the sixth

What disease do you fear most? For most people, it’s cancer. But what’s the second most feared? I got this one right — it’s Alzheimer’s. And there’s good reason for the growing concern. The Alzheimer’s Association says that while cases of heart disease and some cancers have declined, Alzheimer’s disease has gone from the 10th most common cause of death in the United States to the sixth. In response, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is speeding up efforts to develop treatments and possibly a cure.

An article published online in the March 14 issue of the “New England Journal of Medicine” notes that the FDA recommends relaxing the approval process for drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials of people in the early stages of the disease would only need to show improvement in tests of thinking and memory. The FDA’s goal is faster development of effective drugs so that the millions of aging baby boomers like me who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease might be able to prevent or slow down the degenerative disease.

That approach gets the endorsement of one of our experts. Bradley S. Folley, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist at Norton Neuroscience Institute, said, “I think the FDA is moving in an appropriate direction …. At this early stage, the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease) is made based on memory and thinking tests without observing impairments in living skills. It would allow researchers to target ‘at-risk’ populations, thus targeting the disease process at an earlier stage.”

And let’s hope help comes sooner than later. The Alzheimer’s Association says five million Americans are living with the disease and that number is expected to grow over the next 20 years.

For more on the FDA action go to: http://www.healthfinder.gov/News/Article.aspx?id=674433


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